Return to running and sports participation after limb salvage

Johnny G. Owens, James A. Blair, Jeanne C. Patzkowski, Ryan V. Blanck, Joseph R. Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Background: The ability to return to running and sports participation after lower extremity limb salvage has not been well documented previously. Although the ability to ambulate without pain or assistive devices is generally a criteria for a good limb salvage outcome, many patients at our institution have expressed a desire to return to a more athletic lifestyle to include running and sports participation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the types of athletic endeavors our high-energy lower extremity trauma patients were able to pursue after limb salvage. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed lower extremity limb salvage patients who were at least 12 weeks status after external fixation removal and participated in our limb salvage return-to-running clinical pathway. Patients were rehabilitated to their highest functional level through a sports medicine-based approach. A custom energy-storing ankle-foot orthosis was implemented to help augment plantarflexion strength in conjunction with running gait retraining. Results: The first 10 patients to complete the clinical pathway were identified. All patients were treated at the same institution by the same orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. Eight patients have returned to running, and 10 patients have returned to weight-lifting. Seven patients have returned to cycling, three have returned to golf, three to basketball, and two to softball. Two patients have completed a mini-triathlon. Conclusion: Aggressive rehabilitation, an energy-storing ankle-foot orthosis, and running gait retraining can restore an active recreational lifestyle to patients who have undergone lower extremity limb salvage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S120-S124
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ankle-foot orthosis
  • Combat wounds
  • Limb salvage
  • Trauma rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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