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Validating Pitcher Injury Theory

A new discovery regarding injuries to baseball pitchers’ elbows can be described, in round terms, as – the faster the pitch, the more likely the injury.

Brandon (Brad) Bushnell M.D. (pictured) and colleagues at the Harbin Clinic Orthop(a)edics and Sports Medicine, Rome, GA. explain the background: “To our knowledge, no study has directly evaluated the connection between maximum pitch velocity and elbow injury in professional baseball pitchers.” Previous studies have examined baseball pitching styles and their relationship to elbow injuries – but this is the first to explore whether there is an association with the speed of delivery and subsequent elbow damage. Twenty-three professional pitchers were analyzed during spring training games, and the ball velocity of the fastest pitch thrown for a strike (maximum pitch velocity) was recorded. The group was then followed over the next 3 seasons and logged for elbow injuries which were significant enough to warrant inclusion on the disabled list and/or require surgery. The players and their pitching speeds were correlated with elbow injuries (of which, sadly, there were 9) – and the results were unequivocal.

“A statistically significant association between maximum pitch velocity and elbow injury was noted in this study, providing further support of existing theories about injury in baseball.”

Association of Maximum Pitch Velocity and Elbow Injury in Professional Baseball Pitchers is published in the Am J Sports Med April 2010   vol. 38  no. 4  728-732

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