Professional Soccer Players´ Return to Play and Performance After Operative Repair of Achilles Tendon Rupture

The majority of Achilles tendon ruptures are sports related; however, no investigation has examined the impact of surgical repair for complete ruptures on professional soccer players.

To examine the return to play, playing time, and performance of professional soccer players following Achilles tendon repair.

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) athletes who sustained a primary complete Achilles tendon rupture and were treated surgically between 1988 and 2014 were identified via public injury reports. Demographic information and performance-related statistics for the identified athletes were recorded for the season before surgery and 2 seasons after surgery and were compared with information for matched controls. Statistical analyses were used to assess differences in recorded metrics.

A total of 24 athletes with Achilles ruptures met inclusion criteria, 17 (70.8%) of whom were able to return to play. On average, players had 8.3 years of professional-level experience prior to sustaining an Achilles rupture. Among athletes who returned to play, no differences were found in the number of games played or started, minutes played, or goals scored 1 year postoperatively compared with the year prior to injury. However, 2 years postoperatively, these athletes played 28.3% (P = .028) fewer minutes compared with their preoperative season, despite starting and playing in an equivalent number of games. Matched controls had baseline playing time and performance statistics similar to those of players. However, controls played and started in significantly more games and played more minutes at 1 and 2 years compared with players (P < .05). No differences were found in goals scored at any time point.

This is the first investigation examining the effect of an Achilles repair on the career of professional soccer players. This is a difficult injury that most commonly occurs in veteran players and prevents 29.2% of players from returning to play despite surgical management. Additionally, athletes able to return to play were found to play fewer minutes 2 years postoperatively compared with their baseline as well as playing less at 1 and 2 years postoperatively compared with uninjured matched controls. The reduction in playing time following an Achilles repair has significant implications for professional players and teams.

Autor / Fonte:David P Trofa, Peter C Noback, Jon-Michael E Caldwell, J Chance Miller, Justin K Greisberg, Christopher S Ahmad, J Turner Vosseller Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine 2018, 6 (11): 2325967118810772