Authors

Nwachukwu BU, Anthony SG, Lin KM, Wang T ,Altchek DW, Allen AA

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To investigate return to play (RTP) and functional performance after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) in National Basketball Association (NBA) players and to perform a systematic review of the literature to understand RTP after ACLR in professional basketball.

METHODS:

NBA players undergoing ACLR between 2008 and 2014 by two surgeons were identified. RTP and performance were assessed based on a review of publically available statistics. A systematic review of the literature was performed using the MEDLINE database. Inclusion criteria were: English language, ACL surgery outcome, professional basketball and RTP outcome. We reviewed studies for RTP rates and RTP performance.

RESULTS:

Our study included 12 professional basketball players with NBA level experience. Eleven of the 12 players returned to their prior level of play. Eight of the 9 (88.9%) players actively playing in the NBA returned to play in the NBA at a mean 9.8 months. Among players returning to NBA play, during RTP season 1, mean per game statistics decreased for the following: minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers and personal fouls – none of these changes reached statistical significance. Player efficiency ratings significantly declined from pre-injury (12.5) to the first RTP season (7.6) (p = 0.05). By RTP season 2, player performance metrics approximated pre-injury levels and were not significantly different. Six studies met inclusion criteria; reported RTP rates ranged from 78-86%. Identified studies similarly found a decline in functional performance after RTP.

CONCLUSION:

There is a high rate (89%) of return to NBA play for NBA players undergoing ACLR. After RTP, however, there is a quantitative decline in initial season 1 RTP statistics with a significant decrease in player efficiency rating. By RTP season 2, performance metrics demonstrated an improvement compared to RTP season 1 but did not reach pre-injury functional performance, though performance metrics are not significantly different between pre-injury and RTP season 2.

View:  Return to play and performance after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in the National Basketball Association: surgeon case series and literature review

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