Twenty-six players had shoulder surgeries -- one of them had two shoulder surgeries. Eighteen of these players were pitchers. Four were in the major league, three were in AAA, four were in AA and 15 were in the A league. After surgery, just seven players returned to their pre-surgery level of play, and two advanced to a higher level. Five players returned to a lower level of play, one has not returned from his injury, and 11 retired from baseball. Only one player from the high professional level of AA or above returned to the same level of play.
There were 23 elbow surgeries performed on 21 players, and 20 of them were pitchers. Six were in the major league, three were in AAA, three in AA and nine in A league. Of the 12 players at a high professional level, just four returned to the same or higher level.
"Just 45 percent of injured players needing surgery returned to the same or higher level, and if you look specifically at pitchers, 43 percent returned to the same or higher level," Cohen said.
He said those with elbow injuries were more likely to return to the same level of play, with 52 percent in this study attaining their previous or an even higher level. For shoulder injuries, however, that number was just 35 percent.
Both Cohen and Varlotta said that stretching and strengthening exercises are key for preventing injuries in professional -- and recreational -- players.
Cohen was to present the study results Saturday at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Specialty Day meeting in San Francisco.
To learn more about preventing baseball injuries, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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