What is Tommy John Surgery?
Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Reconstruction, better known as Tommy John Surgery, is a procedure performed on the ligament that connects the bone of the upper arm, the humerus, to a bone in the forearm, the ulna. The UCL is a critical ligament in the elbow, and allows athletes, particularly baseball players, to throw a baseball at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour (MPH). A baseball player named Tommy John, a pitcher who played from 1963 to 1989, was the first person to ever have UCL reconstruction surgery. Due to the fact that John was the first player to be operated on, the surgery bears his namesake.
Who was Tommy John?
Tommy John was a ...view middle of the document...
There is a 5-step rehab process, which emphasizes that the player must be pain free before moving on to the next step. Even after the player begins a throwing program to regain arm strength, the normal recovery time is still 8-11 months away from full recovery. It is worth noting, that full recovery is a very loosely utilized term. Dr. James Andrews, a renowned orthopedic surgeon, claims that 10% to 20% of the players who receive the surgery do not regain their full pre operation arm strength and pitch velocity.
Will a player who has undergone the procedure come back stronger?
There has been a lot of success enjoyed be recipients of the procedure. 85% to 90% of players that undergo the procedure have a full recovery. However, statistics show that a player won’t necessarily regain their old form just because they underwent the surgery. Tommy John’s story was a successful one, but the surgery isn’t foolproof. Many of the players that have had the surgery reinjure the elbow later in their career.
How often does the injury occur?
Between 1974 and 1999, the surgery was performed 99 times. Only 7 of those surgeries were performed on a non-pitcher. Since 2000, however, the procedure has been performed 734 times, on both pitchers and regular position players. Dr. Andrews has been quoted as calling this jump in surgeries a sports injury epidemic.
Why has the injury been occurring more frequently?
Many physicians, including Dr....