Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction in High School Baseball Players Clinical Results and Injury Risk Factors

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Abstract

Background

The incidence of ulnar collateral ligament injury has increased in baseball, especially at the high school level.

Hypothesis

Ulnar collateral ligament injury in high school baseball players is associated with overuse, high-velocity throwing, early throwing of breaking pitches, and improper warm-ups.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort study.

Methods

Follow-up physical examination and questionnaire data were collected at an average of 35 months after ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction from 27 former high school baseball players. Six potential risk factors were evaluated: year-round throwing, seasonal overuse, event overuse, throwing velocity more than 80 mph, throwing breaking pitches before age 14, and inadequate warm-ups.

Results

Overall, 74% returned to baseball at the same or higher level. Patients averaged 3 potential risk factors, and 85% demonstrated at least one overuse category. Of the pitchers, the average self-reported fastball velocity was 83 mph, and 67% threw breaking pitches before age 14.

Conclusions

The success rate of ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction in high school baseball players is nearly equal to that in more mature groups of throwers. Overuse of the throwing arm and throwing breaking pitches at an early age may be related to their injuries. Special attention should be paid to elite-level teenage pitchers who throw with high velocity.

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