Tommy John Surgery Newsbeat
Monday, June 27, 2016
When Garrett Richards left his last outing at Texas on May 1, he felt arm fatigue. The club said he was dehydrated and cramping. A subsequent MRI revealed rather he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, a setback that requires Tommy John ligament replacement surgery for most pitchers.
The standard recovery takes up to 18 months.
Richards, instead, hopes to avoid the daunting post-surgery timetable and pitch again in a potential wild-card race thanks to a stem-cell shot he received last month from Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
“It’s an option, and I decided to take it,” Richards said. “Why not?”
So, on May 16, Yoon extracted bone marrow from Richards, concentrated it and injected the mixture back into the UCL in his elbow, aiming to repair the injured ligament.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Six years ago, Yoon began treating partial UCL tears with platelet-rich plasma injections, wherein a patient’s blood is spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets, which contain healing elements that are then injected into the affected area.
Yoon found that PRP worked for about 50 percent of patients. But in that time he also experimented with the use of stem cells from concentrated bone marrow and “noticed that the success rates, anecdotally, were much higher with regards to pitchers going back to throwing, and not having to undergo surgery.”
Yoon estimates that he has performed stem-cell procedures on 15 to 20 Major League pitchers and that “less than 50 percent” ultimately needed Tommy John surgery, though he is not allowed to reveal the names of his patients. The results can be misleading, in both directions, because success is contingent on the type of tear and the amount of time allotted for healing.
Dr. David Crane, who specializes in regenerative therapy for Blue Tail Medical Group in the Midwest, said he has done about 50 of these stem-cell procedures since 2004, the vast majority of them for pitchers in high school and college. About five were Major Leaguers, and Crane said only one wound up needing Tommy John surgery. He claims to have a 90-percent success rate overall, but he is also picky with the patients he chooses.
Said Crane: “If it’s a partial tear, and they still have the healing potential, and the stem cells from bone marrow are good, it’s a useful tool.”
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Major League Baseball pitchers who throw a high percentage of fastballs may be at increased risk for Tommy John surgery, according to research at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Researchers suggest that throwing fastballs nearly half of the time puts pitchers at risk of injury to their elbow. MLB pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery threw on average 7 percent more fastballs than pitchers who had no surgery.
Researchers found no statistical differences in other pitch types like curveballs, sliders and change-ups. They also found no correlation between pitch velocity and risk of injury.
The findings are published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.
“Our findings suggest that throwing a high percentage of fastballs rather than off-speed pitches puts more stress on the elbow,” says Robert Keller, M.D., chief resident in Henry Ford’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the study’s lead author. “This leads to elbow fatigue, overuse and, subsequently, injury.”
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
A quick story on the rarely discussed mental portion of recovery from Tommmy John Surgery.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Don’t think the possibility hasn’t crossed Syndergaard’s mind. All he has to do is look down the row of lockers next to him and see that Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all have undergone reconstructive surgery. And Syndergaard throws harder than any of them.
I asked Syndergaard whether he was worried about becoming the next Tommy John surgery victim. It was obvious the thought had already occurred to him.
“Everyone is afraid of it. You don’t want to lose a whole season,” Syndergaard said. “But a part of me wants to believe [surgery] can be prevented.”
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Because telling young football players to just play baseball isn’t that simple.
First of all, most young athletes don’t have the choice. Not every two-sport high schooler is Deion Sanders, or even Jeff Samardzija. Consider how small a segment of the population can play high-level college or pro baseball or football, and consider how much smaller a segment of the population is capable of doing both. Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, a 20-yeear-old listed at 6-foot-4, 312 pounds, is ideally suited for pushing large men and tackling small ones, which are skills as useless to baseball as Joey Votto’s ability to hit a small ball with a round bat is to football.
But that’s obvious. Let’s address the case of the day, players like Antwaan Randle El, who actually had the choice between football and baseball and chose the former. Saying “just choose baseball” ignores the profound economic disparities between amateur baseball and football.
For all its other faults, the route to fame and fortune in football is one of the most meritocratic in sports. There are elite private clinics for kids, particularly quarterbacks, but—ironically, perhaps because of the brutality of the sport—football players, most of the time, play for their high schools and nowhere else. Colleges scout and recruit high schoolers at their schools, and pro teams scout colleges. Acknowledging that rich parents can hire personal trainers, or send their kids to private schools, or pay for sessions with George Whitfield, you can get noticed by Alabama or Florida State, and in turn by the NFL, if you just show up for your high school football team.
That’s much less true in baseball, and it’s one of the sport’s most severe and least-discussed problems when it comes to spreading the game at the grassroots level. Once the amateur game becomes essentially privatized—a year-round phenomenon where travel teams and private showcases supplement and supplant school teams—it gets expensive, quickly.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
What was Tommy John surgery like? – Andrew
I was asleep, so I don’t know. I assume it was gross….
If you could go back in time and take back one pitch you threw, which would it be and why? – Sal
Probably the one that was hit back at my head and required lifesaving brain surgery. If you still need to know why, please reread the previous sentence.
I’m a big Dodger fan. Have you had a chance to sit down and talk with Sandy Koufax at all since joining the team? What can you share about that experience? – David
First off, he looks about 25 years younger than he is, so my first thought was to ask him about his skin care regimen. Deciding that was too personal, I said something like, “Crazy weather we’re having,” because it was overcast in Arizona. He might have said something in response, but I forget what it was, and honestly it’s not relevant to my story.
Sensing that he was dealing with a social dunce, he asked me about my curveball grip. I showed him, and he quickly showed me a much better way to hold it. My instincts to talk about the weather almost kicked in again before he continued talking about how important the grip is and how he used to hold his depending on what type of curveball he wanted to throw. We talked about the curveball for about half an hour even though I was cold, because it was overcast in Arizona. It will forever be one of my favorite career experiences
for his generous support.
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