Repair of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament of the Elbow: Rehabilitation Following Internal Brace Surgery

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Apr;49(4):253-261. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2019.8215. Epub 2019 Mar 12.


Injuries to the elbow in athletes who play overhead sports, especially in baseball pitchers, continue to increase in frequency. The anterior band of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the primary restraint to valgus stress, is commonly injured from throwing. Historically, such injuries have been treated with surgical reconstruction techniques, using a tendon autograft. A recently developed UCL repair procedure with an internal brace, utilizing collagen tape, is gaining popularity. The primary goal of this surgery is to enhance elbow joint stability while the ligament is healing and to allow earlier return to sport after UCL reconstruction. The rehabilitation program following UCL repair with internal brace progresses through a different time frame than after UCL reconstruction. The purpose of this commentary, based on our experience with more than 350 cases, including 79 patients with at least a 1-year postsurgical follow-up, was to describe and provide the rationale for the rehabilitation process following UCL repair with internal brace. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2019;49(4):253-261. doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.8215.

Keywords: UCL; baseball; elbow; pitching; surgery; throwing; ulnar collateral ligament.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Braces*
  • Collateral Ligament, Ulnar / injuries*
  • Collateral Ligament, Ulnar / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Return to Sport
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction / instrumentation*
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction / methods
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction / rehabilitation*