MLB Pitchers Study | Hackensack Meridian Health   

Lockdown Impact on MLB Pitchers Studied at Hackensack University Medical Center

Research Finds Increased Pro Pitcher UCLR Per Game rates for Shortened 2020 Season Compared with Seasons Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic

Covid 19 on Ulnar Collateral

Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers were three times more likely to undergo UCL reconstruction (UCLR) per game following the 2019 COVID-19 lockdown according to a study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

In the research, Hackensack University Medical Center investigators helped determine that a decreased preseason pitching workload due to the COVID-19 lockdown may have had an effect on per game UCLR rates.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension and shortening of the 2020 MLB season from 162 to 60 regular season games. The study compared the rate of UCLR, surgery timing and pitching workload in MLB pitchers from before and after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Specifically, a data review identified MLB pitchers who underwent UCLR between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2020. Player characteristics and surgery date, as well as career and season of surgery pitching workload, were collected for all included pitchers. The researchers compared pooled sample data for 2017 to 2019 versus 2020.

A similar number of pitchers underwent UCLR during or after the 2020 regular season as opposed to the 2017 to 2019 seasons. However, after accounting for the decrease in games played during the 2020 regular season, the data showed an MLB pitcher was 2.9 times more likely to undergo surgery per game after the COVID-19 lockdown compared with the previous years. And MLB pitchers who underwent surgery in 2020 threw fewer preseason innings than did pitchers who underwent surgery between 2017 and 2019.

The negative effects of the pandemic and its impact throughout healthcare cannot be overstated. Research like this will help instruct healthcare providers in how best to adapt treatment protocols and preventative regimens going forward according to the study's authors.

Learn more about innovative orthopedic care at Hackensack University Medical Center.

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