Sydney University, Australia
Umair Ansari is an Australian trained doctor who is currently undertaking a training pathway in maxillofacial surgery. His research history includes publications in hand surgery and orthopaedic fracture management, and has extensive experience working at the registrar level in both orthopaedic surgery and emergency medicine. With a keen interest in sport, this study served to answer the niche question of return to sport post maxillofacial sporting fracture.
This systematic review aimed to summarize the current evidence guiding the return to sport of professional athletes post treatment for maxillofacial fracture. A secondary aim was to formulate clinical practice guidelines to aid in the future management of these niche clinical presentations. Methodology and Theoretical Orientation: A literature search was performed on a total of six databases using subject headings and keywords. Articles that related to the topic areas of maxillofacial fractures, professional athletes, and return to sport were identified. Of these papers, all that contained data or expert opinion on time to return to sport post treatment were retrieved. An analysis of study design and potency of each paper was then performed, and the clinical recommendations recorded. Findings: A total of 122 papers were identified in our literature search, of which 9 papers addressed the subject matter. There was 1 retrospective and 1 prospective paper, with the remaining 7 papers offering expert opinion only. Recommendations on return to sport varied between 3 to 12 weeks, depending on type of fracture, sport, and the presence of protective headwear. Most studies suggested a graduated increased in aerobic exercise, and then strength training, leading up to the point of returning to competitive sport. Conclusion and Significance: The evidence for return to sport post maxillofacial fracture is derived mainly from expert opinion. Nevertheless, the current evidence has been used to formulate clinical recommendations derived from a consensus of Australian Maxillofacial Surgeons specializing in maxillofacial trauma in sport. These recommendations offer clinical practice guidelines, and further indicate areas future research into return to sport post maxillofacial fracture.