A Revolutionary Surgery, Now as Typical as a Sinker

The New York Times—March 7, 2014

Pitchers who had Tommy John surgery might have felt like raising a toast to Dr. Frank Jobe on Thursday night. But that very motion might not have been possible, at least without triggering elbow pain, if not for Jobe’s pioneering technique.

In the past four decades, advancements in the operation — which involves grafting a tendon from the forearm into the elbow to act as a ligament — and the rehabilitation process have cut the standard recovery period nearly in half.

Given the virtually year-round demands on pitchers that can increase stress on their arms, the need for Tommy John surgery has never been more pronounced.

Dr. David Altchek, the medical director for the Mets and a co-chief in the Sports Medicine & Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, said baseball patients were amazed to learn that the condition was not caused by an improper pitching style.

“Really, really good technique increases it the most,” he said, adding that as players got bigger and stronger, the need for surgery would only increase.

Read the full story at nytimes.com.

 

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