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Am J Sports Med. 1988 May-Jun;16(3):260-5.

Hand injury patterns in softball players using a 16 inch ball.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Illinois.


Softball is a popular recreational and competitive sport among both men and women. The injury rate in softball players is as high as that in baseball and basketball players. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 119 hand injuries in 108 patients treated at the University of Chicago hand clinic. All of the injuries were caused by the impact of a 16 inch circumference softball. Of the 119 injuries, 87 (73%) had bone involvement. Operative treatment was required in 26 (22%) injuries, 23 involving fractures and 3 involving soft tissue only. There was one (3.8%) operative complication. Of all injuries, 101 (86%) involved the finger joints, including 46 (39%) injuries to the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint, 48 (40%) to the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint, and 7 (6%) to the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. The most common DIP joint injury was a mallet injury. This fracture, the most common single type of injury in our series, accounted for 27% of all injuries. Of all mallet injuries, 86% were fractures. The most common PIP joint injury was a volar plate fracture, the second most common injury in our series. Variables such as the patient's sex, dominance or nondominance of hands, and early or late season play were not associated with a higher risk of injury. Certain parts of the hand, such as the more ulnar digits and the DIP and PIP joints, were at particularly high risk of injury.

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