Tommy John Surgery

It’s the season for Tommy John surgery.

Tommy_John_2008_bronx

Former LA Dodgers pitcher, Tommy John, whose name will forever be linked with the successful elbow surgery he had.

Major League Baseball (MLB) began its season earlier this month…….Wait!  In truth, it began its season last month:  the Opening Series of the season took place in Australia on March 22! I thought it was a nice, antipodean, cross-cultural touch that MLB played the first game of 2014 at the Sydney Cricket Grounds (the LA Dodgers faced the Arizona Diamondbacks)…..

With the return of baseball comes an all too common injury:  UCL tears, partial and complete.  This season, it seems there is a veritable epidemic:  14 pitchers scheduled to have this surgery already (in comparison, from 2000 to 2011 there was an average of 16 MLB pitchers per year undergoing the procedure).

What was once a career-ending injury has been transformed into a season-ending one because of one man, Dr. Frank Jobe.  Dr. Jobe, as readers will know, passed away earlier this year.  Many in the sports world noted his incomparable legacy as the ‘savior of pitchers elbows’  He was a great doctor, and a decent man.

He devised the surgical approach to ‘ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction,’ and his first patient was the pitcher Tommy John, who went on to pitch 164 games in his career after the surgery (such success is arguably a major reason his name has ‘branded’ the procedure).

I’m not the only one thinking of Tommy John, Dr. Frank Jobe, and pitching-related elbow pain.  Sue Basile, a reader of this blog, reached out to me and asked if she could write a guest post on the topic.  Sue received her BS in  Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University, her MS in Biomedical Engineering/Biomechanics from the University of Tennessee, and is working on her PhD in Kinesiology/Biomechanics at Georgia State University.  Here are her thoughts on prevention of the injury that can lead to Tommy John surgery:

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Stemming the Tommy John Tide begins in Little League – Sue Basile
Ivan Nova may soon find himself on a list that no pitcher wants to be on – the one of those undergoing Tommy John surgery.   Despite it still being the first month of the season, the elbow count is already high, with the Yankee pitcher potentially joining promising players like the Mets’ Matt Moore and the Braves’ Cory Gearrin  in having their season cut entirely too short.  Read more of this post

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