English Composition II EN102
Professor Rini Kilcoyne/ SP 2010
The Importance of Tommy John Surgery
Tommy John Surgery, also known medically as an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is a procedure in which a tendon from the wrist, hamstring, or knee is moved to the elbow to replace a torn UCL. The first attempt at this surgery was on Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John in 1974. It became a major advancement in sports medicine. To this day it still saves and lengthens the careers of athletes and carries the name of its famous first recipient.
Doctor Frank Jobe was the doctor who performed the procedure on John. He had been a consultant for the Dodgers since 1964 and was well trusted as a doctor, by the team and in Major League Baseball. It was during the 1974 season that he made the leap from being a team doctor to a baseball legend. On July 17th, thirty year old starting pitcher, Tommy John threw one too many pitches and on the last one, tore his UCL. At that time, any injury to a professional athlete that required surgery was considered almost certainly career ending, leaving almost no hope for a full strength recovery. There wasn’t even a surgical procedure in medical practice to repair a torn UCL well enough to take the stress of pitching. John however was not ready to give up baseball so he turned to Dr. Jobe. He told him “You’ve got to do something. I don’t care what it is, but fix me.” Jobe came up with the idea to take a tendon from John’s wrist and use it to replace the torn ligament in his elbow. On September 25th, he performed the surgery by drilling two holes in the ulna and humerus bones at the elbow and threading the wrist tendon through the holes to imitate the ulnar collateral ligament which was no longer there. Neither John nor Jobe had much of an idea on whether the surgery would succeed or fail.
Even the rehabilitation was unprecedented. Jobe had to come up with exercises and other forms of therapy... [continues]
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