Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science
DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy)
Session and Year of Graduation
Laura Frey Law
Background: Surgical reconstruction is the most common treatment for full-thickness Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) tears of the elbow. However, the recovery process for a UCL reconstruction is generally 9-12 months. The purpose of this case study is to elucidate how conservative physical therapy treatment of a complete UCL tear can restore a level of athletic functionality to throwing athletes when healing time interferes with playing time. Case Description: The patient was a 20-year old female who sustained a full-thickness UCL tear of her right elbow. Intervention: Interventions included wrist flexor soft tissue mobilization, scapular strengthening, core strengthening, analysis of throwing mechanics and administration of a return to throwing program. Outcomes: Elbow ROM and scapular strength were evaluated. A DASH could have been performed and would have provided more insight into this patient’s functional response to treatment. Discussion: Ulnar collateral ligament tears are on the rise among throwing athletes. Although UCL reconstruction has been reported to return patients back to sport at or near pre-injury performance, the associated recovery period invariably disrupts athletic activity for up to a year. If conservative physical therapy treatment became a more viable option for complete UCL tears long-term, throwing athletes could be provided an opportunity for amplified activity post-injury when surgery precludes participation for a prolonged period of time.
Orthopedic & Sports
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