Early unprotected return to contact sport after metacarpal fixation in professional athletes

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To determine whether an early return to sport in professional Australian Rules Football players after fixation of a non-thumb metacarpal fracture was safe and effective.

Patients and Methods

A total of 16 patients with a mean age of 25 years (19 to 30) identified as having a non-thumb metacarpal fracture underwent open reduction and internal plate and screw fixation. We compared the players' professional performance statistics before and after the injury to determine whether there was any deterioration in their post-operative performance.


Of the 16, 12 sustained their fracture during the season: their mean time to return to unrestricted professional play was two weeks (1 to 5). All except two of the 48 player performance variables showed no reduction in performance post-operatively.


Our data suggest that professional athletes who sustained a non-thumb metacarpal fracture can safely return to professional play without restriction two weeks after internal fixation.

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