Evaluation of shoulder-stabilizing braces: Can we prevent shoulder labrum injury in collegiate offensive linemen?

Hayden P. Baker*, Vehniah K. Tjong, Kevin F. Dunne, Tory R. Lindley, Michael A. Terry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Shoulder injuries remain one of the most common injuries among collegiate football athletes. Offensive linemen in particular are prone to posterior labral pathology. Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of shoulder bracing in collegiate offensive linemen with respect to injury prevention, severity, and lost playing time. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Offensive linemen at a single collegiate institution wore bilateral shoulder-stabilizing braces for every contact practice and game beginning in the spring of 2013. Between spring of 2007 and fall of 2012, offensive linemen did not wear any shoulder braces. Player injury data were collected for all contact practices and games throughout these time periods to highlight differences with brace use. Results: Forty-five offensive linemen (90 shoulders) participated in spring and fall college football seasons between 2007 and 2015. There were 145 complete offensive linemen seasons over the course of the study. Offensive linemen not wearing shoulder braces completed 87 seasons; offensive linemen wearing shoulder braces completed 58 seasons. Posterior labral tear injury rates were calculated for players who wore the shoulder braces (0.71 per 1000 athlete-exposures) compared with shoulders of players who did not wear the braces (1.90 per 1000 athlete-exposures). The risk ratio was 0.46 (95% CI, 0.16-1.30; P =.14). Mean time (contact practices and games) missed due to injury was significant, favoring less time missed by players who used braces (8.7 vs 36.60 contact practices and games missed due to injury; P =.0019). No significant difference in shoulder labral tears requiring surgery was found for brace use compared with no brace use. Conclusion: Shoulder-stabilizing braces were shown not to prevent posterior labral tears among collegiate offensive lineman, although they were associated with less time lost to injury. The results of this study have clinical significance, indicating that wearing a shoulder brace provides a protective factor for offensive linemen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 11 2016


  • Collegiate football
  • Offensive linemen
  • Prevention
  • Shoulder injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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