Patient: Tommy John
By Kendal Kemp
In baseball today, the most valuable position is the pitcher. Without a good pitcher, the team is lost; similar to a football team without a good quarterback. The good news is that star pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish and David Price are prominent throughout the MLB. However, the bad news is potential star pitchers are snuffed out by an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (ULC). The ulnar collateral ligament is a thick band of ligamentous tissue that forms a triangular shape along the medial elbow. The ulnar collateral ligament, along with the lateral collateral ligament, connects the humerus to the ulna and keeps it tightly in place. These ligaments are the main source of stability for the elbow. An injury to the ULC will cause pain inside the elbow and the elbow will feel loose an out of place. When this occurs in a pitcher, his career is put into serious jeopardy. The remedy for a torn ULC is Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery was first used in 1974 by Dr. Frank Jobe, a then Los Angeles Dodges team doctor, on Tommy John a pitcher for the Dodgers. Dr. Jobe gave Tommy John a 1 – 100 chance of coming back to the Major Leagues to pitch, and Tommy did. Since then, the surgery has been called Tommy John surgery. In the past few years, there has been a major spike in the number of Tommy John surgeries. Pitchers have the surgeries and then in a year and half later they are out pitching again. However, the long term diagnosis is not promising and some pitchers have had to get a second surgery due to re-injury. With the growing epidemic of Tommy John surgeries, the concern of an underlying problem arises from the dust. The problem isn’t that there are more Tommy John surgeries than 10 years ago; that is just the effect. The cause is much deeper and well hidden. From youth on up, baseball players are developed too fast, especially pitchers. At a young age,...
Cited: Verducci, Tom. "Tom Verducci: Overuse of Young Pitchers Fueling MLB 's Tommy John Surgery Problem." SI.com. N.p., 23 June 2014. Web. 24 Sept. 2014.
"American Sports Medicine Institute | Research." American Sports Medicine Institute | Research. N.p., July 2014. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.
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