Hitting a home run: long-term injury consequences of baseball injuries

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Publication details

Weatherby, RP & Meir, RA 2006, 'Hitting a home run: long-term injury consequences of baseball injuries', Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 38, no. 5 supplement, p. 347.


PURPOSE: To determine what impact (major and significant) injuries sustained during participation in competitive baseball have on players' post participation.

METHODS: 75 retired players (37.8% response rate) completed a survey designed specifically for this research. Each participant received a package containing the survey, an explanatory cover letter and a reply paid addressed envelope in which to return the completed survey. After the initial development of the survey form it was distributed to relevant experts in the sport/sports injuries field for input and feedback regarding face validity and relevance of questions. A pilot study was also conducted using 4 subjects from the target population resulting in a number of small changes being made to the survey tool.

Statistical analysis - As the number of major, significant and total injuries were significantly positively skewed, a natural logarithmic transformation was applied to the counts of injuries in each category [In(number of injuries+1)]. A hierarchical analysis of variance was performed on each of the transformed variables; number of major, significant and total injuries, with the covariate of years spent playing baseball and factors, level of competition played (4 levels - local, state, semi-professional/ professional, national) and playing position (4 levels - pitcher, outfield-hitter, infield-hitter, catcher). A hierarchical analysis of variance gives the significance of each factor after adjusting for the previous variables included separately in the model. An alpha level of p <0.05 was used for all statistical comparisons.

RESULTS: The most common injuries were sprained ankles, hamstring strains, rotator cuff injury to the shoulder and tendon or ligament damage to the elbow or lower arm. Catchers had significantly less injuries than all other positions. 18.7% of all respondents reported suffering from arthritis, 24% from restricted joint mobility and 4% from chronically stiff fingers; all of these conditions were associated with their participation in baseball based on medical examination by their GP or medical specialist. A total of 29.3% of respondents indicated that they had incurred additional medical costs and 12% reported significant loss of income associated with their injuries. 26.7% reported experiencing limitations in their ability to carry out normal recreational activities.

CONCLUSIONS: Typically it appears the career length of a player is quite long and while the average rate of injury across a career was reported at 5.6 given the length of time (mean 27.2 yrs) spent actively involved in the sport this could not be considered high.

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