RED-S: What is it, and does it help us understand the female athlete better?

Sports medicine clinicians utilise guiding principles and various models to assist with the medical management and harm minimisation in the course of their care of athletes.

The RED-S ‘Red Light – Yellow Light– Green Light’ Risk Assessment and Return to Play (RTP) models are designed to take a complex clinical assessment and RTP decision making process and integrate them into a functional model that is both simple to understand by the athlete and the clinician, and is relatively easy to implement in the ‘real world’. The models were developed to be adaptable for both males and females, an important distinction from the old "female triad" model. The endpoints identified as red light “high risk” criteria and the yellow light “caution” criteria all apply to both male and female athletes except for the two endpoints related to the menstrual cycle.

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In April 2014, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published a Consensus Statement entitled “Beyond the Female Athlete Triad – Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S)”. To assist sports medicine professionals working in clinical sports medicine with the practical screening and management of the RED-S athlete, the IOC authors have developed a Clinical Assessment Tool – the RED-S CAT.

The ReD-S CAT is a clinical assessment tool for the evaluation of athletes and active individuals suspected of having relative energy deficiency and for guiding return to play decisions.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical