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Return to football after Achilles tendon rupture

There has been a lot of debate on our current LB depth situation. Whether our not we need to draft an LB with our top ten selection. Some say it would be silly to draft there for a back up LB because we have TD and Beason coming back. Other will offer that we do not have depth and that not only is TD's return to the field suspect but that Beason will not be assured of full return to pre injury performance. Some question how long Beason recovery time is , while others debate he will be full bore by mid season.

Well enough of the speculation.After the jump you can read a medical study done recently on 31 NFL players who had the exact injury and it documents there recoveries times, power gains/loss, and avg games lost after return. Great read and we will all be better educated on this situation.

This is just highlight from the study. Here is the link to the full story.

Only two-thirds of National Football League players ever come back, and those who do find their performance significantly affected. But research suggests a prodromal period may offer opportunities for early intervention.

by Khalid Shirzad, MD; John D. Hewitt, MD; Carter Kiesau, MD; and Selene G. Parekh, MD, MBA

Of the 31 players who sustained an Achilles tendon rupture, 21 (64%) returned to play in the NFL at an average of 11 months after injury. In the three seasons following their return, those 21 players saw significant decreases in games played and power ratings compared to the three seasons preceding the injury.

The percentage of players returning to play at the NFL level is consistent with a meta-analysis performed by Bhandari4 in 2002. The authors reported return to function rates of 63% for patients treated nonoperatively and 71% for those treated operatively. If we assume that all the NFL players were treated operatively, as would be the standard for young athletes, the return to play rate of 64% is slightly lower than the 71% reported in the meta-analysis. This difference could be attributed to the excessive demands placed on the operatively repaired Achilles tendon in NFL players combined with a body size, strength, and explosiveness that would further increase these demands.

The length of time to allow full activity after Achilles tendon repair is generally thought to be four to six months.4-6 The 11 months needed to return to play as a professional football player seems considerably longer. However, there is a major difference between allowing full activity and returning to play in the NFL. Even when the typical patient is allowed to participate in full activity, it does not mean that he or she is adequately rehabilitated to perform at maximal efforts. Studies to determine maximal improvement after surgical treatment are lacking in the orthopedic literature.

Furthermore, in the reviewed 21 NFL skill players who returned to play, there were significant decreases in games played per season (11.67 games per year pre-injury versus 6.17 games per year postinjury) when averaged over the three seasons before the injury and the three seasons after the injury.3 There were also decreases averaging nearly 50% in power ratings of the returning players for the three seasons after the injury compared to the three seasons before the injury. These data indicate that even in players able to return to their former level of play, the quality of play may suffer permanently.

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