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The Role of the Hand Surgery Consultant in the Care of the Football Athlete.

PURPOSE: Return-to-play safely focusing on care for professional athletes. Variability on when return-to-play is possible due to differences in dexterity requirements of player's position and upper extremity injuries. This study covers the importance of trust between players and healthcare providers in the incident of upper extremity injury and aspects of when return-to-play is favorable.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The methods and materials used in this study were a collection of case reviews and documentation of injuries reported by national leagues. A retrospective review from 2000 to 2012 reviewing case series reported by the NFL Injury Surveillance System (NFL ISS). The case reviews included player activity, external bracing, and clinical notes. The review extracted from the National football league surveyed injuries over a 10-year period from 1996 - 2005. The National Football league's surveillance database was used focusing on the type of injury, the athlete's position, and the type of activity that was occurring at the time of injury.

RESULTS: The 7 included articles reported most injuries occurred in defensive players. The majority of injuries were sustained while tackling. Additionally, the 7 articles included a discussion of injury types including those of the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow. Treatment plans were also reviewed catering to the type of injury. Players who were treated non-operatively missed a mean of 25 days and players who were treated operatively missed a mean of 46 days.

CONCLUSION: The importance of communication between surgeons, coaches, players, and general managers of teams is vital in caring for injured players. All parties need to be aware of how much time players will miss and the best management techniques to take to get them back on the playing field.

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