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Sports Medicine Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Paul Cutler and Erik Drost

Athletes’ Performance Takes Big Hit After Achilles Tendon Rupture

Tracey Romero • Fri, October 20th, 2017

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According to Columbia University Medical Center researchers, many athletes who experience an Achilles tendon rupture don’t return to their pre-injury performance until two years after surgery.

The researchers examined the records of National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League athletes who sustained a primary complete Achilles tendon rupture that was surgically treated between 1989 and 2013. Performance-related data was collected for two seasons before and after surgery and compared with matched controls.

In total, data was collected on 25 National Basketball Association (NBA) players, 32 National Football League players and 5 Major League Baseball players. Out of these 62 players, 19 were unable to return to play. For those athletes who did return to play, they played fewer games (p < .001) and had decreased play time overall during games (p = .025). Their performance statistics at the one year mark after surgery were still poor (p < .001), but improved by two years postoperatively.

Overall the NBA players experienced the most difficulty returning to pre-injury level of performance. Results of the study, “Professional Athletes’ Return to Play and Performance After Operative Repair of an Achilles Tendon Rupture” were published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine in the October, 2017 issue.

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