Performance and Return to Sport After Clavicle Open Reduction and Internal Fixation in National Football League Players.
Jack RA., Sochacki KR., Navarro SM., McCulloch PC., Lintner DM., Harris JD.
BACKGROUND: Clavicle fractures are common injuries in professional football. Surgical fixation of these injuries may lead to decreased nonunion rates, improved shoulder strength, and decreased residual functional impairment. PURPOSE: To determine (1) return-to-sport (RTS) rate in National Football League (NFL) players after clavicle fracture open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF), (2) postoperative career length and games per season, (3) pre- and postoperative performance, and (4) postoperative performance compared with control players matched by position, age, years of experience, and performance. STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. METHODS: Publicly available records were used to identify players who underwent surgical treatment of a clavicle fracture while playing in the NFL. Demographic and performance data were collected for each player, and matched controls were identified. Control and case performance scores were calculated using a standardized scoring system. RTS was defined as playing in 1 NFL game after surgery. Comparisons between case and control groups at preoperative and postoperative time points were made using paired-samples Student t tests. RESULTS: Seventeen surgeries (16 players) were analyzed. Fifteen players (94.1%) were able to RTS in the NFL at a mean 211.3 ± 144.7 days postsurgery; 7 (44%) returned within the same season as their injury and subsequent fixation. The overall rate of a player's remaining in the NFL 1 year after surgery was 88.2%. Players who underwent surgery played in a similar number of games per season and had similar career lengths in the NFL as controls (P > .05). There were no significant (P > .05) differences between cases and matched controls presurgery and preindex. There was no difference (P > .05) in postoperative performance scores or games per season compared with preoperative scores or games per season for any position. Quarterbacks (n = 3, P = .049) and running backs (n = 5, P = .039) had significantly worse postoperative performance scores when compared with postindex matched controls. CONCLUSION: There is a high rate of RTS in the NFL after clavicle fracture ORIF. Players who underwent clavicle fracture ORIF played in a similar number of games per season and had similar career lengths in the NFL as controls. Quarterbacks and running backs had significantly worse postoperative performance scores when compared with postindex matched controls.