DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-0580.23 ISSN: 1938-162X

Athlete Health and Human Performance Will Not Improve Without Transdisciplinary Collaboration and Data Sharing in Elite Sport

Matthew S. Tenan, Bob Alejo
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • General Medicine


There are two largely competing models for an athletics organization at both the collegiate and professional levels: the High Performance Model and the Medical Model. The High Performance Model arises from international Football perspective that places a “Performance Director” at the center of teams supporting the athletes. The Medical Model, supported by both the National Athletic Trainers Association and the NCAA, separates off medical staff (athletic trainers, physical therapists, and physicians, predominantly) and emphasizes the autonomy of medical decisions. The Medical Model has left clinicians in a “medical silo”, limiting our ability to care for the individual athletes as holistic people and limits our wider impact in the field of athlete health and injury mitigation. We argue that Medical. Model is consistent with the High Performance Model only if we reject the notion that the “Performance Director” is an administrative person and instead conceptualize this as a “Health and Performance Information Hub” which facilitates transdisciplinary collaboration. This Commentary details how a data broker system can be used to accelerate transdisciplinary collaboration within an athletic organization, leading to better healthcare for athletes and improved team and individual performance. Furthermore, a transdisciplinary organization with data sharing is able to turn real-world data into real-world evidence, enhancing the care and performance of athletes locally as well as facilitating the creation of generalizable knowledge in the area of sports medicine and human performance.

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