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Great Injuries in Sports History

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Very cool interview with Dr. James Andrews on how modern medicine might treat some famous injuries:

There’s no question that there has been a lot of advancement to fix that type [Mantle 1951 knee] of injury. It’s not a guarantee he would be fine, but with modern surgical and modern diagnostic techniques it would have been different. The big revelation was the use of the arthroscope. With the arthroscope you don’t need to open the knee. You open the knee and right away that’s three months until you’re back. The arthroscope led us to modern rapid rehab. Mantle had a significant, complex injury. Still, with a complex injury like that, a high-level athlete can get his career back — not guaranteed, of course — but you could get his speed and career back.

It’s a good combination of athletes who had Hall-of-Fame careers despite injury (Mantle), HoF careers curtailed by injury (Sayers), significantly modified by injury (Walton, Dickerson), and potential HoF careers that never really came together (King, Hardaway).  It would also have been interesting to hear some of Andrews’ thoughts about athletes who suffered Sayers or Mantle-esque injuries early on and couldn’t come back to have even a Bernard King type career, although obviously these are harder to spot.

Also interesting on the next step in sports injury treatment:

It was very difficult to explain what was wrong with Penny Hardaway. He was a great guy, a competitive guy, but he had an articular cartilage injury, an injury to the smooth lining of the joint that allows the gliding of the joint. Back then we didn’t really have MRIs to make the diagnosis. Today? Now you would see that on an MRI. It’s still a nemesis and the hardest thing in treatment because the body doesn’t have a way to regenerate it. Mother Nature can’t just fix that. That’s the next step, the biologics, where we determine how to jump-start the healing process and let the body, not the procedure, do the work.

 

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