Major League Baseball Grant Funds Study of Pitch Counts, Throwing Injuries

A grant from Major League Baseball allows Michigan Medicine orthopaedic sports medicine researchers to examine throw counts in youth baseball players to prevent adolescent throwing arm injuries.

1:00 PM

Author | Kylie Urban

Boy pitching ball

For youth baseball players, especially those who play competitively and often, throwing arm injuries are becoming too common.

"There has been an increase in arm injuries in young baseball players," says Michael T. Freehill, M.D., an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Michigan Medicine.

LISTEN UP: Add the new Michigan Medicine News Break to your Alexa-enabled device, or subscribe to our daily audio updates on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.

"Although pitch counts, or the number of pitches thrown during a game, have been created based on the best scientific evidence available and to help protect these young athletes, questions surrounding total throws still exist."

A new research grant from Major League Baseball awarded to Freehill and team through the Michigan Center for Human Athletic Medicine and Performance (MCHAMP), hopes to give players a better understanding of injuries that result from pitching and throwing too frequently.

"Pitch count recommendations are made on in-game pitches only," says Freehill, principal investigator of the study. "Warm-up throws before the game or at the start of each inning are not counted and the pitch's intensity is not calculated into the pitch count."

The total number of throws is likely as or more important than pitch counts. This study is the first step in further developing safe throwing amounts, while allowing players to develop their arms and become more effective.
Michael T. Freehill, M.D.

He adds, "That's a problem, as all of these additional throws, many with high-intensity, are impacting the arm's muscles, joints and elbow and aren't truly being counted."

So the total number of throws may be of more importance.

"The total number of throws is likely as or more important than pitch counts," Freehill says. "This study is the first step in further developing safe throwing amounts, while allowing players to develop their arms and become more effective."

Determining stress

In the study, Freehill, Stephen Cain, Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the study, and team will use an algorithm to capture the total number of throws and the intensity of each throw by youth (10- or 11-years-old) male competitive pitchers over the course of 12 months.

MORE FROM MICHIGAN: Sign up for our weekly newsletter

"I'm fortunate to partner with Dr. Cain, a University of Michigan engineer, who has created this algorithm that allows us to track every throw and its intensity via sensor technology," Freehill says.

In addition, the research team will examine the collected data and correlate it to actual pitches thrown, types of pitches and osseous changes seen in the players throwing elbows via X-rays before and after the study period.

"Throwing arm injuries are a result of repetitive stress on the arm," Freehill says. "Understanding just how much musculoskeletal stress the arm is experiencing is necessary to reduce injury frequency and severity."

Future results

The study is already underway with the research team expected to present results at the MLB Team Physicians Day at the Winter Meetings in December 2019.

The research team hopes this study will produce results that could be the first step in providing new recommendations for throwing amounts and durations.

"Correlating the total number of throws and the associated intensity of each throw with the osseous elbow anatomy is an important first step in the ability to make better recommendations for throw counts in the future," Freehill says.

This study is performed under the grant, Re-defining Youth Pitch Count with Throw Count and Intensity Determination: A Pilot Study, and is funded by Major League Baseball.


More Articles About: Body Work Sport Injuries Sports Injury Prevention Bones and Muscles and Joints (Orthopaedics)
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

This article is from the Health Lab digital publication.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

MichMedmedia@med.umich.edu

734-764-2220

Newsletter

Get a weekly digest of medical research and innovation, straight to your inbox.

Subscribe
Featured News & Stories Watercolor Painting People Rain Umbrella
Health Lab
Support from others in stressful times can ease impact of genetic depression risk
Stress can interact with genetic vulnerability to depression, and with added or lacking support from friends and family, to affect depressive symptoms.
scientists together at computer in white coats
Health Lab
Researchers uncover new cell types involved in osteoarthritis
And the development of a new slow-release drug seeks to target them
prescription pad
Health Lab
Reducing opioids prescribed after total knee and hip arthroplasty can be beneficial for patients and doctors
Large doses of opioids are commonly prescribed after total knee and hip arthroplasty to avoid call-ins for refills, but smaller doses can be just as effective.
senior woman blowing nose blanket
Health Lab
Study hints at why older people are more susceptible to the flu
Influenza is back in circulation, posing a special danger to older adults.
muscle weakness guy sitting clock on wall pink red and grey smoke and time clocks tired weight on floor
Health Lab
Is muscle weakness the new smoking?
Researchers say the study finding is some of the first evidence linking muscle weakness and biological age acceleration
brains in blue in lightbulbs and one orange
Health Lab
Inequality linked to differences in kids’ brain connections
Brain connection study shows that socioeconomic factors, including at-home enrichment, are associated with widespread differences in children’s brain connections.