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- Issue 61
- Rehabilitation and return to play of…
Rehabilitation and return to play of the athlete after an upper extremity injury
- Nearly one third of all shoulder injuries are estimated to be sports related, with a high incidence seen in young male athletes.
BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Nearly one third of all shoulder injuries are estimated to be sports related, with a high incidence seen in young male athletes. In addition to overhead throwing athletes, shoulder injuries are also common in swimmers and athletes playing sports involving contact and collision (1). Return to play (RTP) rates vary considerably based on the athlete, sport demands, and surgical intervention, however the evidence indicates high level throwers face an uphill battle in returning to previous levels of performance.
The aim of this article was to summarize postoperative care, RTP criteria, and RTP timelines for overhead athletes following rotator cuff (RC) tears, superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) tears, shoulder instability, and elbow ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears.
Surgical outcomes are promising for all non-throwing athletes and non-elite throwing athletes, however professional level throwers tend to struggle to reach pre-surgical levels of performance.
The authors performed a wide scope review of literature on common upper extremity (UE) surgical interventions for athletes. The paper outlined a 4-phase rehabilitation plan and general framework for post-operative care, including timelines, expectations, exercise recommendations and criteria-based progressions.