American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting

Perspective from John D. Kelly IV, MD
July 10, 2014
2 min read

No difference in return to play seen for NFL players who underwent either open or arthroscopic shoulder stabilization

Perspective from John D. Kelly IV, MD
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SEATTLE — The rate of return to play after shoulder stabilization procedures among National Football League players is high, according to research presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting that showed no difference in the return rates between players who had either open or arthroscopic repair.

“Open stabilization continues to be a strong treatment option, particularly in collision sports athletes. Recent studies have shown that there are no clinical differences between open and arthroscopic techniques, and we did not find any difference in the return to play between the two categories,” said Matthew J. White, MD, during his presentation.

White and his colleagues from the American Sports Medicine Institute studied the rate of return to play for 60 athletes in the National Football League (NFL) following shoulder stabilization. The researchers defined successful return to play as when an athlete returned to play in at least one regular season NFL game after stabilization. Overall, 11 athletes had open stabilization and 49 athletes had arthroscopic repairs. White said career length and demographics were similar between the groups.

The researchers found that 90% of athletes returned to game play after surgery, with an average return time of 8.6 months. Overall, three of 54 athletes who returned to play missed more than one full season. The investigators discovered no statistically significant differences between athletes who did and those who did not return to play regarding age, number of games played preoperatively and career length. Athletes who underwent open repair had a statistically significant difference in the number of games and seasons played postoperatively, White said. Seven athletes had circumferential labral tears, however, all fully returned to play postoperatively. Their recovery time was 7.9 months and they played for an average of 2.6 seasons.

White said athletes who were selected in the first four rounds of the NFL draft were 7.6 times more likely to return to play after stabilization. – by Kristine Houck


White MJ. Paper #2. Presented at: the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting; July 10-13, 2014; Seattle.

Disclosure: White has no relevant financial disclosures.