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Shoulder Surgery Helps Athletes Get Back in the Game

Total joint replacement doesn't keep most people sidelined for long, study shows

FRIDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Even older adults can return to full participation in sports or activity within six months of having a total shoulder joint replacement, new study findings show.

U.S. researchers examined questionnaires filled out by 165 patients, aged 47 to 93, who had total shoulder joint replacement performed by a single surgeon between July 1, 2004 and Sept. 30, 2007.

"In our study, approximately 94 percent of the patients who have a total shoulder arthroplasty or joint replacement were able to return to sports, and 85 percent were able to return to the type-specific sport they were involved in before the surgery," lead author Dr. Gregory N. Drake, shoulder and elbow fellow at Fondren Orthopaedic Group, Texas Orthopaedics Hospital, said in a news release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

"Eighty-eight percent of the individuals in our study returned to their activity levels for periods greater than 30 minutes per session with the same type of intensity. It also appears that the most likely reason for returning to the same level of participation is dependent on the motivation of the individual. Athletics can be a great motivator for surgery and an even greater one for patients to stick to a rehabilitation schedule," Drake said.

He and his colleagues noted that "activity modification" for the first six months after surgery protected the shoulder against sports-related injuries, such as a deceleration injury that can be caused when a golf club hits the ground during a swing or as the result of a fall during a tennis match. And any type of contact sport is discouraged following joint replacement surgery.

The study was to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, in Keystone, Colo.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about shoulder joint replacement.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, news release, July 10, 2009

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