The demand for ulnar collateral ligament injuries and Tommy John surgery in youth baseball has been on the rise for decades.
Although the exact number of injuries is unknown, plastic surgeon Dr. James Andrews Say Among players aged 15-19, the number of Tommy John operations is increasing at a rate of more than 9% per year. A large number of studies have shown that following national guidelines on the number of pitches and rest time is important to reduce the risk of injury for these young athletes. So why will it continue to increase?
A new survey suggests that part of the problem may be that many parents are still unaware of the risks that overuse poses to their young baseball pitchers.
In a survey of nearly 100 caregivers of young baseball pitchers in Florida, University of Florida health researchers found that 83% of people don’t know safe pitching guidelines. This is true regardless of the player’s experience level.
Kevin Farmer, a health plastic surgeon at the University of Florida, emphasized that even young baseball players are vulnerable to arm overuse injuries that may require surgery. This is not just a matter of college and professional baseball.
This Ulnar collateral ligament Located on the inside of the elbow. It connects the upper arm to the forearm to help stabilize the arm. Daily activities do not put too much pressure on the ligaments, but studies have shown that the repetitive force of throwing a baseball can cause the ligaments to tear.
treatment For ulnar collateral ligament injuries, usually start with rest and physical therapy. However, when this doesn’t work, reconstructive surgery is required to repair the tear — known as Tommy John’s surgery after the first major league pitcher owned it in 1974 — is necessary.
“If you look at the elbow ligament, the ulnar collateral ligament, it can’t resist the pressure it sees when throwing a baseball,” Farmer Say.
That is He explained why good pitching skills and execution of rest time and number of pitches are so important.
However, it may be difficult because there are so many young players Year-round pitching For several teams. In the survey, 44% of players participated in more than one league, and 18% of players pitched for 9 months or more each year.
Another problem is that the number of courts is not always calculated correctly. A 2018 study led by Dr. Jason Zaremski, joint medical director of the UF Health High School Outreach Program, showed that many of the balls thrown by high school players, including those made during warm-ups or in the bullpen, were not counted in the number of pitches despite the increase Risk of injury to the pitcher.
“It’s really important that someone pays close attention to the players to make sure they don’t take too many shots, so that we can minimize the risk of injury,” Farmer said.
Farmer and his colleagues emphasized that because children play in multiple teams, parents and caregivers need to keep track of their children’s pitching burden. Unfortunately, even among the caregivers who understand safe pitching guidelines, the survey found that many people are not sure what these guidelines are.
The survey also found that teenagers who have played baseball for more than 6 months a year are more likely to have throwing arm pain after a game or practice. More than half of the nursing staff who responded to the survey reported that their children had pain in their arms directly due to pitching, and many of them missed a game because of the pain. 27% of children need to seek medical evaluation for arm pain.
Farmer said: “We have proven time and time again that the more you play and the more shots, the greater the risk of injury.” “I think coaches understand the importance of tracking the number of shots in most cases. They are. It’s usually impossible to know how many shots someone has made elsewhere and is out of their sight. As experts, we all need to do a better job to speak the word.”
according to Country guide For safe pitching, 7-9 year olds should not throw more than 50 pitches per day. For teenagers 9-10 years old, the limit is 75.
As players age, the number of pitches allowed in a game gradually increases. It is recommended that players aged 13-16 do not throw more than 95 balls per day.
The research was published in International Journal of Sports Physiotherapy.