Athletes are more than their sum of parts

The complex anatomy and function of the knee, for instance, has been well recognized. Understanding and explaining a complex biological system such as the knee joint is difficult and challenging. To overcome the problem of complexity, many scientists simplify or reduce this complexity by disassembling the complex system into their single units. Without argue, reductionism has been the basis of most scientific fields. This has led to an impressive range of discoveries and advancements that have found their way to more or less extent to preventive and clinical practice.

However, the knee joint is not a simple machine put together by bones, muscles, and connective tissue. Importantly, clinicians do not treat knees, but an individual who has a knee problem. This latest editorial argues why the athlete should be viewed as a complex system with non-linear relationships between units (i.e., biomechanical, behavioural, physiological, and psychological factors). It is the interaction between these individual components that give rise to the collective behaviour of the active and rehabilitating athlete, and as such determines succes of our efforts.

The full article can be found here

Gokeler A, Verhagen E, Hirschmann MT. Let us rethink research for ACL injuries: a call for a more complex scientific approach. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2018;325:10–2.