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Comeback to a Pre-Injury Level After Elbow or Shoulder Surgery Disappointing for Pro Baseball Players
Date:3/8/2008

New research found only 45 percent of players return to same or higher

level of play

SAN FRANCISCO, March 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Only 45 percent of baseball players were able to return to the game at the same or higher level after shoulder or elbow surgery, according to new research released today during the 2008 American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Specialty Day at The Moscone Center.

"In an ideal world, of course, we would get 100 percent of the players back to their pre-injury level or higher," says Steven B. Cohen, MD, assistant team physician for the Philadelphia Phillies and director of Sports Medicine Research at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia. "But the fact of the matter is at this elite level of the sport, the physical demands of throwing have much higher requirements than the regular person on the street. The average person who has shoulder or elbow surgery can return to their regular activities. Throwing a baseball at the professional level puts a significant amount of stress on the shoulder and the elbow."

Over a four-season period, Cohen and colleagues studied 44 players from one professional baseball club (major league, AAA, AA and A) who underwent 50 shoulder and elbow operations by a variety of surgeons. There were 27 shoulder surgeries performed on 26 players and 23 elbow surgeries performed on 21 players. A key finding of the study was that players returning after elbow surgery were more likely to comeback to the same or higher playing level than those who had shoulder surgery. Thirty-five of the players were pitchers with 43 percent returning to the same or higher playing level.

The researchers found that overall, only 20 of the 44 players (45 percent) returned to the same or higher level of professional baseball. For ballplayers at the major league, AAA, or AA level, the study found only 4 of 22 (18 percent) were able to return to the same or higher level.

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SOURCE American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
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