The Evolving Treatment Patterns of NCAA Division I Football Players by Orthopaedic Team Physicians Over the Past Decade, 2008-2016

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Abstract

Background:

Previous studies have analyzed the treatment patterns used to manage injuries in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football players.

Hypothesis:

Treatment patterns used to manage injuries in NCAA Division I football players will have changed over the study period.

Study Design:

Descriptive epidemiology study.

Level of Evidence:

Level 5.

Methods:

The head orthopaedic team physicians for all 128 NCAA Division I football teams were asked to complete a survey containing questions regarding experience as team physician, medical coverage of the team, reimbursement issues, and treatment preferences for some of the most common injuries occurring in football players. Responses from the current survey were compared with responses from the same survey sent to NCAA Division I team physicians in 2008.

Results:

Responses were received from 111 (111/119, 93%) NCAA Division I orthopaedic team physicians in 2008 and 115 (115/128, 90%) orthopaedic team physicians between April 2016 and April 2017. The proportion of team physicians who prefer a patellar tendon autograft for primary anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) increased from 67% in 2008 to 83% in 2016 (P < 0.001). The proportion of team physicians who perform anterior shoulder stabilization arthroscopically increased from 69% in 2008 to 93% in 2016 (P < 0.0001). Of team physicians who perform surgery for grade III posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries, the proportion who use the arthroscopic single-bundle technique increased from 49% in 2008 to 83% in 2016 (P < 0.0001). The proportion of team physicians who use Toradol injections prior to a game to help with nagging injuries decreased from 62% in 2008 to 26% in 2016 (P < 0.0001).

Conclusion:

Orthopaedic physicians changed their injury treatment preferences for NCAA Division I football players over the study period. In particular, physicians have changed their preferred techniques for ACLR, anterior shoulder stabilization, and PCL reconstruction. Physicians have also become more conservative with pregame Toradol injections.

Clinical Relevance:

These opinions may help guide treatment decisions and lead to better care of all athletes.

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