September 18, 2017
1 min read

ACL injury in NBA athletes not associated with number of minutes played

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Results published in Orthopedics showed the risk for ACL injury among players did not increase with the number of minutes played in a single National Basketball Association game.

Kelechi Okorha

To determine the influence of minutes played on injury risk, researchers assessed minutes played in the injury game, during the season and during the career of 83 National Basketball Association (NBA) players who sustained an ACL injury between 1984 and 2015. Researchers also assessed return to play, player efficiency rating and playing time after return. To compare performance data with players who sustained an injury, researchers selected a control group of players without ACL injuries matched based on sex, age, BMI, position and years of experience in NBA.

Compared with the average minutes per game that season or during players’ careers, results showed significantly fewer minutes were played prior to NBA athletes sustaining an ACL injury. Of all injuries, one-third occurred during the first quarter of the season. Researchers noted a 95% rate of return to NBA competition for the season following ACL injury, with significantly more minutes played by players drafted as lottery picks or those who were starters. Researchers found decreased player efficacy ratings among players who returned to play vs. matched controls.

“There is a common misperception that NBA players tear their ACLs at the end of games, when they are tired or when playing too many minutes. Our study evaluated risk factors for ACL injury in the NBA player and found that the amount of minutes played was not a significant contributor to ACL injury risk,” Kelechi R. Okoroha, MD, told “Additionally, we found a high rate of return to play (95%) after ACL injury in NBA players. Those who were elite athletes played more minutes per game after returning, and players suffered a decrease in player efficiency rating.” – by Casey Tingle


Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.