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American Association for Hand Surgery

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Distal Radius Fracture in the Athlete Treated with Percutaneous Threaded Pins
Patrick Luchini, MD1, Justin Vaida, MD1, Julie Glener, MD1, Lucy McCabe, BS2, Andrea B Lese, MD1 and John S. Taras, MD1, (1)West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, (2)The Philadelphia Hand Center, Philadelphia, PA

Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the outcomes and return to play with early rehabilitation in athletes who sustained unstable extraarticular distal radius fractures treated with a purpose-designed threaded pin technique.

Materials and Methods: This prospective study examined athletes with displaced and unstable, distal radius fractures treated surgically with purpose-designed threaded pins. Patients were enrolled in an early rehabilitation protocol, with formal therapy initiated on postoperative days 1 to 3. Range of motion and strength measurements were documented throughout the postoperative period, noting the time until return to athletic competition. These results were compared to historical values utilizing other forms of fixation.

Results: 19 athletes, average age 35 years were treated with threaded pin technique with early rehabilitation, all with complete healing and maintained alignment based on radiographic evaluation. The average time span between surgery and release to competition was 8 weeks with all but one patient returning to sport within 12 weeks of injury. Average postoperative flexion measured 58 degrees, extension 57 degrees, pronation 81 degrees, and supination 74 degrees. JAMAR grip strength in position 3 measured 55.6 pounds, which equated to 73% of the uninjured side's grip strength at the time of release to play.

Conclusion: Surgical fixation utilizing a purpose-designed threaded pin is a useful alternative to volar plating for isolated radial styloid and extraarticular distal radius fractures in athletes. The purpose-designed threaded pin may afford athletes rapid recovery during the early postoperative period, preserving strength and dexterity and minimizing time lost before return to play.

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