April 2013

As in football, Achilles rupture means end of career for many NBA athletes

In the moment: Ankle

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Fewer than half of National Basketball Association (NBA) players who suffer a complete Achilles tendon tear return to play for more than one season, and 39% never return to play at all, according to research presented in March at the AAOS meeting.

Using information from injury reports, press releases, and player profiles, investigators from Drexel University in Phila­delphia identified Achilles ruptures in 18 NBA players over 23 seasons. Eight athletes (44%) played for two or more seasons after injury; three others played for just one season.

Playing time and performance in the first season after injury were significantly decreased compared to preinjury levels and compared to matched uninjured controls. In the second season after injury, however, the between-group differences were not apparent.

The findings are consistent with those of a 2009 study that found poor rates of return from Achill­es rupture in National Football League players (see “Return to football after Achilles tendon rupture”).


Garg R, Amin NH, Old AB, et al. Performance outcomes after repair of complete Achilles tendon ruptures in National Basketball Association players. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Chicago, March 2013.

Parekh SG, Wray WH 3rd, Brimmo O, et al. Epidemiology and outcomes of Achilles tendon ruptures in the National Football League. Foot Ankle Spec 2009;2(6):283-286.

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