Journal: The Physician and Sportsmedicine (June 23, 2021, online edition)
Authors: Alexis Chiang Colvin, MD, Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Daniel A. Charen, MD, Resident, Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and other coauthors.
Bottom Line: Baseball players are highly susceptible to shoulder injuries due to significant microtrauma including repetitive overhead throwing. Mount Sinai researchers investigated men’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) baseball shoulder injury rates and associated risk factors. This research supports previous studies that encourage injury prevention measures, such as identifying and treating players with rotator cuff weakness and decreased range of motion in the preseason to decrease risks for shoulder injuries during the regular season.
How: In the retrospective cohort study, researchers used the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program (ISP) database to examine common shoulder injury data over 5 years for men’s baseball players from the 2009-2010 to the 2013-2014 seasons. The study examined the occurrence of common injuries, such as those involving the rotator cuff, labrum and biceps tendon. Researchers also looked at the player position, need for surgery, and reoccurrence of injury, among other factors.
Results: The researchers found that rotator cuff injuries represented nearly half (46%), of all shoulder injuries, which were significantly more likely to be season ending. The Mount Sinai team also found that pitching and throwing were associated with rotator cuff tears, rotator cuff tendonitis cases, SLAP tears, and biceps tendonitis cases.
Why the Research Is Interesting: Mount Sinai researchers believe this is the first study to specifically analyze the epidemiology of shoulder injuries in NCAA baseball players.
Study Conclusions: Repetitive overhead throwing is a risk factor for shoulder injuries in collegiate baseball players, often leading to rotator cuff and biceps tendon injuries. While previous studies have evaluated strengthening and conditioning, pitch counts, and throwing mechanics, this research confirms there is still a high rate of shoulder injuries for repetitive overhead throwers. Mount Sinai researchers encourage physicians and trainers to refine and develop new injury prevention strategies to enhance care for collegiate baseball players.
Said Mount Sinai's Dr. Daniel Charen of the research: The majority of shoulder injuries in NCAA baseball players involve the rotator cuff, Unfortunately, players that ultimately sustain a tear of the rotator cuff are more likely to be out for the remainder of the baseball season. Although many important advances have been made optimizing the shoulder health of baseball players, there is still an opportunity to improve injury prevention and treatment strategies in these repetitive overhead throwers.