Return to play following Achilles Rupture

Those of you keeping up with the Olympics would have no doubt by now heard of the unfortunate injury NZ Rugby player Sonny-Bill Williams has sustained- a partial Achilles Tendon Rupture.

I know a few keen fans anxiously holding their breath, so to ease your nerves I have compiled some info regarding return to play (RTP) rates following Achilles rupture.

In a study published in the BJSM in June this year researchers found that while RTP rates vary wildly depending on the criteria used to measure the level and degree of return to play, approximately 80% make it back on the pitch. They go on to say that as has been found with RTP rates following ACL reconstructions, the more stringent the definition of RTP used would reduce this to at least 77%, which is still likely quite optimistic. One study involving NBA players found rates as low as 60%.

It’s likely SBW won’t be seen on the field for at least 6 months, which is the average time to RTP with a more conservative estimate of anywhere up to 10 months.

Something for the weekend warrior to think about include the development of secondary musculoskeletal problems related to changes in biomechanics, including knee injury or contralateral Achilles tendinopathy (25%) and rupture (6%). While function can return at 3 months, there is often a slow progression from 12 months to 2 years with muscle weakness

and decreased endurance persisting for up to 10 years following injury.

These figures included both professional and recreational cohorts as well as operative and non-operative treatments throughout the world and as thus serve as a general overview of RTP rates. You can find a link to the article mentioned here: BJSM

Never-the-less SBW is in for some tough rehab if he wants to make it back to his previous best. Maybe the Aussies can sneak away with Bledisloe while he is out ;)

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