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This article is the author's final published version in JSES International, Volume 7, Issue 2, March 2023, Pg. 301 - 306.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons.


Background: Despite the high prevalence of rotator cuff (RTC) tears in older adults, there is limited literature evaluating the return to recreational sport after repair. The purpose of this study was (1) to assess the patient-reported outcomes and return to sport rates following rotator cuff repair in patients aged more than 40 years with minimum 2-year follow-up; (2) to compare baseline, preoperative and postoperative outcomes, and level of play following repair of self-reported athletes with nonathletes; and (3) to compare return to sport rates in overhead athletes compared to nonoverhead athletes. Methods: Patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair between January 2016 and January 2019 were screened for inclusion. Inclusion criteria included (1) age more than 40 years at the time of surgery, (2) arthroscopic repair of a full thickness RTC tear, and (3) preoperative American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score (ASES) available. Eligible patients were contacted and invited to fill out a custom return to sport and patient-reported outcome survey. Results: Overall, 375 of the 1141 eligible patients completed the survey instrument. There were 210 self- reported athletes (mean age 59.2 ± 9.55 years) and 165 nonathletes (mean age 62.0 ± 8.27 years) (P ¼ .003). Of the athletes, 193 (91.9%) returned to sport. The average age of athletes was 59.4 ± 9.33 years for those who returned to sport and 57.9 ± 12.0 years for those who did not (P ¼ .631). Athletes reported higher ASES scores than nonathletes both preoperatively (49.8 ± 20.3 vs. 44.8 ± 18.9, P ¼ .015) and postoperatively (87.6 ± 16.7 vs. 84.9 ± 17.5, P ¼ .036), but there was no difference in mean ASES improvement between groups (37.7 ± 23.0 vs. 40.3 ± 24.5, P ¼ .307). There was no difference in post- operative Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores when comparing self-reported athletes to nonathletes (85.4 ± 17.5 vs. 85.0 ± 18.7, P ¼ .836). After controlling for age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status using a multivariate analysis, there was no difference in mean ASES improvement when comparing athletes to nonathletes. Conclusion: There is a high rate of return to sport activities (> 90%) in older adult recreational athletes following arthroscopic repair of full thickness RTC tears and rates of return to sport did not significantly differ for overhead and nonoverhead athletes. Self-reported athletes were noted to have higher baseline, preoperative, and postoperative ASES scores than nonathletes, but the mean ASES improvement following repair did not significantly differ between groups.

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