Most WNBA athletes return to play, reach baseline performance after ACL reconstruction
Women’s National Basketball Association athletes have a high return to play rate after ACL reconstruction despite an initial decrease in minutes played and points per game in their first year after surgery, according to published results.
Joseph S. Tramer, MD, and colleagues from the department of orthopedic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit identified and analyzed 59 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) athletes who sustained ACL tears from 1997 to 2018.
Researchers calculated return to play (RTP) rates and statistical performances in each athlete before and after injury to assess changes in performance relative to preinjury baseline, according to the study. They also compared performances of athletes who successfully RTP with a cohort of healthy controls of similar BMI, age, experience, height and position.
During the study period, 69.5% (n = 41) of WNBA athletes who sustained ACL tears successfully RTP. Compared with the year before injury, athletes who RTP played a mean of 7.5 fewer games, 5 fewer minutes per game and scored 3.7 fewer points per game in their first year. Additionally, the healthy control group recorded more games and minutes played, rebounds, assists and blocks per game in the same indexed year.
However, these decreases in performance resolved by year 3 after surgery, as the athletes who underwent ACL reconstruction returned to preinjury baseline in all variables, Tramer and colleagues concluded.