Tramer JS, Khalil LS, Buckley P, Ziedas A, Kolowich PA, and Okoroha KR. Effect of Achilles Tendon Rupture on Player Performance and Longevity in Women's National Basketball Association Players. Orthop J Sports Med 2021; 9(3):6.
Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Background: Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players have a greater incidence of lower extremity injury compared with male players, yet no data exist on functional outcomes after Achilles tendon rupture (ATR).
Purpose: To evaluate the effect of Achilles tendon repair on game utilization, player performance, and career longevity in WNBA athletes.
Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.
Methods: WNBA players from 1997 to 2019 with a history of ATR (n = 12) were matched 1:2 to a healthy control group. Player characteristics, game utilization, and in-game performance data were collected for each athlete, from which the player efficiency rating (PER) was calculated. Statistical analysis was performed comparing postinjury data to preinjury baseline as well as cumulative career data. Changes at each time point relative to the preinjury baseline were also compared between groups.
Results: Of the 12 players with ATR, 10 (83.3%) returned to play at the WNBA level at a mean (+/- SD) of 12.5 +/- 3.3 months. Four players participated in only 1 WNBA season after injury. There were no differences in characteristics between the 10 players who returned to play after injury and the control group. After return to play, the WNBA players demonstrated a significant decrease in game utilization compared with preinjury, playing in 6.0 +/- 6.9 fewer games, starting in 12.7 +/- 15.4 fewer games, and playing 10.2 +/- 9.1 fewer minutes per game (P < .05 for all). After the index date of injury, the players with Achilles repair played 2.1 +/- 1.2 more years in the WNBA, while control players played 5.35 +/- 3.2 years (P < .01) Additionally, the players with Achilles repair had a significant decrease in PER in the year after injury compared with preinjury (7.1 +/- 5.3 vs 11.0 +/- 4.4; P = .02). The reduction in game utilization and decrease in PER in these players was maintained when compared with the matched controls (P < .05 for both).
Conclusion: The majority of WNBA players who sustained ATR were able to return to sport after their injury; however, their career longevity was shorter than that of healthy controls. There was a significant decrease in game utilization and performance in the year after return to play compared with healthy controls.