Parachute-Induced Pectoralis Major Tears in Military Servicemembers: What Is the Functional Recovery?

K. Aaron Shaw, Scott Brown, Colleen M. Moreland, Ivan J. Antosh, Stephen A. Parada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although the most common injury mechanism for pectoralis major (PM) tears is an eccentric loading mechanism typically caused by bench pressing, within the military, there is a unique injury mechanism associated with airborne operations. The results of operative repair for these parachute-induced PM tears have not been previously reported. Purpose/Hypothesis: To assess the functional outcomes in military servicemembers undergoing operative repair of parachute-induced PM tears. We hypothesized that functional recovery would be impaired with delayed surgical intervention. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Included were active duty military servicemembers who underwent operative repair for PM tears caused by a parachute-induced mechanism. Charts were reviewed to identify characteristic, injury, and surgical variables. Patients completed the functional outcome assessment with the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) questionnaires. Outcomes were compared between patients treated within 6 weeks of injury and those treated beyond 6 weeks. Results: Of the 68 identified PM tears, 25 were the result of parachute-induced mechanisms. A total of 13 patients consented and completed the functional outcome assessment. The mean patient age was 30.6 ± 6.4 years, and the mean follow-up period was 5.46 ± 1.26 years. Ten patients underwent repair within 6 weeks of injury, and the remaining 3 patients underwent repair at a mean of 338 days after injury (95% CI, -42.8 to 718.8 days), a significant difference between groups (P =.006). All 13 patients were able to return to military duties at a mean of 6 months from injury. Patients treated within 6 weeks of injury had significantly higher functional outcomes (DASH score, 6.17 vs 26.67; P =.018; ASES score, 85.97 vs 49.5; P =.008), with greater strength performance compared with preinjury (bench press, 90.58% vs 38.95%; P =.0057; push-ups, 81.9% vs 23.8%; P =.023) compared with patients treated beyond 6 weeks of injury. Conclusion: Operative repair of parachute-induced PM tears within 6 weeks of injury provided a superior functional and strength recovery when compared with delayed surgical repair. Acute repair should be recommended for military servicemembers who experience this unique injury mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • airborne operations
  • military
  • parachute injury
  • pectoralis major

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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