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Elbow, Shoulder Injuries Take Heavy Toll on Pro Baseball Players
Date:3/8/2008

The majority never return to their pre-injury level, study finds,,,,

SATURDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Sometimes it doesn't take three strikes to get out in baseball. A new study found that just one injury severe enough to require surgery kept more than half of those injured players from returning to the same or higher level of play.

And, for those players who've made it to the major or minor leagues in professional baseball, the news was even more dismal -- just 18 percent made it back to the same level or higher, according to the study.

"The demands of professional baseball are not insignificant. Not everybody gets back to 100 percent after an injury," said the study's lead author, Dr. Steven B. Cohen, assistant team physician for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and director of sports medicine research at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia.

Dr. Gerard Varlotta, director of sports rehabilitation at New York University Medical Center's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine/Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City, added: "Many pitchers in the major league just aren't the same after a rotator [shoulder] injury."

He cited Dwight Gooden, a former New York Mets star, as an example. "He lost the velocity on his pitch," said Varlotta, adding, "We'll see how Pedro Martinez [a current Mets pitcher] does after his surgery. He may have difficulty getting back to the same level. It will be interesting to see if Martinez changes the ratio of fastballs and other pitches."

Sometimes, pitchers have to change the way they pitch after an injury. For example, a fastball pitcher may have to start throwing different types of pitches, such as curveballs, sliders or change-ups, Varlotta explained.

For the new study, Cohen and his colleagues analyzed injury data from one professional baseball club over a four-year period. During that time, 44 players sustained 50 shoulder or
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