What does TOTAPS stand for in first aid?

TOTAPS is a way of  assessing sports injuries in athletes and amateur players. It provides an easy way of remembering all the steps in assessing a sports injury before allowing a player to return to the field. TOTAPS

So what does TOTAPS stand for?


Talking to the athlete is the first step in assessing an injury. Find out exactly what happened when the injury occurred, it is important to establish a mechanism of injury

Ask about symptoms such as pain – find out the exact location of the pain and how severe it is.  


Observing an injured body part is incredibly important. If a limb has been injured, always compare the injured limb to the uninjured limb.

Look for any open wounds, swelling, deformity or redness. Remember swelling may not occur immediately after an injury. 


Feel for any tenderness over the injury site. Severe tenderness when feeling a bone may indicate a fracture. 

Active movement

Active movement involves the athlete moving the injured part themselves. Ask them to perform a range of movements to see if these movements bring on pain.

Passive movement

Passive movement involves you (as the first aider) moving the injured part / joint through its whole range of movement. You should stop if any of the movements bring on pain.

Skills test

The final component to TOTAPS is a skills test. This involves the athlete performing some basic skills relevant to their sport to see if these movements exacerbate the injury. 

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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