Impact of Clavicle Fractures on Return to Play and Performance Ratings in NFL Athletes

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Abstract

Objective:

Clavicle fractures in the National Football League (NFL) have gained significant attention because of their impact on high profile athletes; however, little has been published on the overall impact of these injuries. This study sought to determine the time to return to play and quantitative impact on athletic performance after clavicle fractures in NFL athletes.

Design:

Retrospective Cohort Study; Level of evidence, 3.

Setting:

Retrospective cohort study of NFL athletes based on published injury reports and player statistics.

Participants:

This study consisted of 17 NFL athletes who sustained a clavicle fracture from 1998 to 2015 and returned to the field after the injury during the study period. Three athletes were excluded from performance analysis because of not playing for the entire season after injury. Control groups consisted of position-matched NFL athletes who competed in the 2013 NFL season without an identified clavicle injury.

Main Outcome Measures:

Median time to return to play after a clavicle fracture and the impact on player performance rating.

Results:

Athletes returned to the competition after a median of 3.47 months after injury and missed a median of 8 games. There was no statistically significant impact on athletic performance after returning to play.

Conclusion:

Although clavicle fractures did have a significant impact on athletes because of lost playing time, there was no statistically significant difference in player performance after the injury when compared with a control group.

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