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Return to Doctors Study Hamstring Injuries in Major League Baseball Players, Implications for All Athletes Overview

More on Doctors Study Hamstring Injuries in Major League Baseball Players, Implications for All Athletes

Doctors Study Hamstring Injuries in Major League Baseball Players, Implications for All Athletes

NEW YORK (May 28, 2014)

Hamstring injuries are among the most common and debilitating types of injuries found in elite and nonprofessional athletes, alike. Ranging from mild muscle damage to complete muscle tearing, hamstring injuries are especially prevalent among athletes who play sports that involve sprinting with sudden stops and starts.

Christopher S. Ahmad, M.D.
Christopher S. Ahmad, M.D.

Christopher S. Ahmad, MD, Head Team Physician for the New York Yankees, and a member of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Team Physicians Association, is group leader for an MLB research study on hamstring injuries. Dr. Ahmad and colleagues are seeking to identify the cause of hamstring injuries, as well as develop prevention and treatment strategies. Investigators in the study from across the country are part of a widespread effort to identify injuries and prevention strategies in MLB players.

"By conducting these studies in the highest level of professional baseball players, athletes of all levels will benefit," said Dr. Ahmad. "Hamstring injuries rank in the top 3 of injuries that affect time lost in Major League Baseball, but these injuries are often considered preventable."

A major concern among patients with hamstring injuries is the risk for prolonged impairment and re-injury. "In fact, 20% of athletes will have a relapse or repeat injury. What is particularly important in the treatment of competitive athletes is determining early on the time required before they can return to the field," said Dr. Ahmad. The average time lost with a hamstring injury is between 3 and 4 weeks," he added.

Through the MLB injury surveillance system, which compiles data on all injuries occurring in the MLB, researchers compared hamstring injuries to all other baseball injuries. Study results revealed that there were unique features to hamstring injuries compared with other injuries. "For example, over 50% of hamstring injuries occur when a hitter makes contact with the ball and accelerates to first base. That's the most common mechanism for the injury. There is also seasonal timing ... where most of the injuries peak very early in the season, and then peak again towards the end of the season. The thought is that early on, conditioning is still being established so the player is still very vulnerable to injury, while later in the season fatigue factors contribute to the risk."

The published results included risk reduction and prevention strategies, the latest evidence on the management of hamstring injuries, and indications for surgical and non-surgical treatment. Currently, Dr. Ahmad and colleagues are designing prevention strategies informed by the study results. "One such study will evaluate a muscle conditioning program, including muscle activation and muscle recruitment exercises for the lower extremity, to optimize the muscle so it is not vulnerable to injury."

The doctors are also evaluating newer treatments for hamstring injuries, seeking to make healing more predictable and avoid re-injury. "We have found that injecting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to the site of injury accelerates the healing process and the timing of recovery is more predictable. The recurrence rate of injury with PRP is also lower. What's exciting about this therapy is that it's easy to administer and can be done in a very timely manner."

Through a separate grant from the MLB, Dr. Ahmad is now studying PRP therapy and muscle strains in animal models. "As a clinician, I see hamstring injuries all too frequently, so it's very rewarding to be doing cutting-edge research on how to prevent and take care of one of the most major injuries experienced in baseball."

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