31 October 2012
Tommy John Surgery
Snap, crackle, and pop. Those aren't the sound of rice crispies in milk; it’s the sound a pitcher hears after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament. This injury used to be career ending but is now almost standard. This has saved countless dreams for many baseball players of not just playing baseball but to have complete function of their right arm. Today, sports fans and athletes hear the term Tommy John surgery and don't flinch. There are currently 29 active ballplayers in the major leagues who have already have had Tommy John surgery. That includes the Chicago White Sox'
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Frank Jobe; who was the Los Angeles Dodgers' orthopedic surgeon. After several examinations, Jobe gave the pitcher the bad news. If he didn't have surgery, he would never play baseball again. Jobe suggested a new surgery that had never been attempted before. "He told me what he was going to do; he said, if you've pulled it off the bone, then what we'll do is just reattach it to the bone and it will be no problem. But if it's not, I'm going to have to take this tendon from your right forearm and graft it into your left elbow." John asked the surgeon for the odds of a successful outcome. Jobe put the odds at 1%."Well, I was valedictorian of my high school class and 1% or 2% in 100 is far better than zero percent in 100," he said. On September 25, 1974, Jobe performed the surgery. The rehab was grueling, initially causing John to have what he called a "claw hand." There was a subsequent surgery to repair nerve damage. After 16 weeks, he was able to throw a baseball. He would miss the entire 1975 season. Although he would play another 13 seasons in the big leagues and become a hall of famer. This surgery used to be rare, but with competitive baseball becoming more intense for all ages elbow injuries are not only becoming more widespread, but are affecting athletes at younger ages. With the evolution of technology and the recruiting process with colleges and pro teams, youth baseball players in temperate areas play