Development of an Injury Burden Prediction Model in Professional Baseball Pitchers

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Development of an Injury Burden Prediction Model in Professional Baseball Pitchers.

Bullock G, Thigpen C, Collins G, et al.



Background: Baseball injuries are a significant problem and have increased in incidence over the last decade. Reporting injury incidence only gives context to rate but not in relation to severity or injury time loss.

Hypothesis/Purpose: The purpose of this study was to 1) incorporate both modifiable and non-modifiable factors to develop an arm injury burden prediction model in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) pitchers; and 2) understand how the model performs separately on elbow and shoulder injury burden.

Study Design: Prospective longitudinal study

Methods: The study was conducted from 2013 to 2019 on MiLB pitchers. Pitchers were evaluated in spring training arm for shoulder range of motion and injuries were followed throughout the season. A model to predict arm injury burden was produced using zero inflated negative binomial regression. Internal validation was performed using ten-fold cross validation. Subgroup analyses were performed for elbow and shoulder separately. Model performance was assessed with root mean square error (RMSE), model fit (R2), and calibration with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).

Results: Two-hundred, ninety-seven pitchers (94 injuries) were included with an injury incidence of 1.15 arm injuries per 1000 athletic exposures. Median days lost to an arm injury was 58 (11, 106). The final model demonstrated good prediction ability (RMSE: 11.9 days, R2: 0.80) and a calibration slope of 0.98 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.04). A separate elbow model demonstrated weaker predictive performance (RMSE: 21.3; R2: 0.42; calibration: 1.25 [1.16, 1.34]), as did a separate shoulder model (RMSE: 17.9; R2: 0.57; calibration: 1.01 [0.92, 1.10]).

Conclusions: The injury burden prediction model demonstrated excellent performance. Caution should be advised with predictions between one to 14 days lost to arm injury. Separate elbow and shoulder prediction models demonstrated decreased performance. The inclusion of both modifiable and non-modifiable factors into a comprehensive injury burden model provides the most accurate prediction of days lost in professional pitchers.

Level of Evidence: 2