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Webinar Discusses Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injury Rehab Using Aquatic Therapy

As any athlete who regularly throws objects overhead realizes, the elbow plays an essential role in the success of these endeavors. However, repetitive stress or trauma on any connective tissue can and does take a toll on high school, collegiate, professional and recreational players. Specifically, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is a sensitive region of the arm and is susceptible to injury and surgical interventions.

Although land-based physical therapy has long been utilized to enhance the outcomes of UCL surgery, often called Tommy John Surgery (TJS), many athletic trainers and physical therapists are treating athletes using aquatic therapy in advanced therapy pools as well. TJS has reported success rates of around 87 percent, but requires creative, knowledgeable intervention at the rehabilitation level to maintain athletes’ overall and future health.

Common Issues Surrounding Ulnar Collateral Ligament Issues

Baseball pitchers tend to be the most commonly addressed populations when discussing UCL issues and resulting TJS, yet they aren’t the only athletes who deal with this condition. It’s also frequent among gymnasts, javelin throwers,ice hockey players and racquet sports players. Still, most research has concentrated on studying baseball players due to available statistics. For instance, in studies of Major League Basement (MLB), minor league baseball and high school baseball information, several interesting facts on UCL injury emerged:

  •     Pitchers with faster fastball velocities were more likely to get UCL injuries.
  •     Pitchers were more likely to experience UCL problems during the first three months of the seasons.
  •     Relief pitchers are more likely to see UCL injuries tears than starter pitchers are.
  •     About 20-25 percent of TJS events are experienced by minor league baseball players.
  •     About 60 percent of TJS events are experienced by college or high school baseball athletes.

Concerns with the UCL tend to be associated with overuse and improper biomechanics in all age groups such as during the arm cocking phase of pitching, which is the third phase (between stride and arm acceleration) according to The American Sports Medicine Institute. Trauma may include a tear or even an elbow break, and symptoms generally include pain on the inside of the arm, soreness or swelling around the elbow, and elbow/arm tingling or numbness.

When TJS is prescribed, rehab is typically done to strengthen the muscles, improve range of motion, and correct biomechanics. This is where innovative aquatic therapy can play a huge, statistically valuable role.

Webinar Discusses Aquatic Therapy for TJS Patients

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