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Conclusion I met Bill Walton in the late spring of 2015 during a meet-and-greet session for a conference in Chicago. He told me about his 37 orthopaedic surgeries, so naturally I asked to interview him for this book. I didn’t even have to explain its premise to him. “Hopefully this book is about, ‘This is the way it used to be. This is the way it is now. How can we be better for the future so that our athletes, our young people, our guys who want to test themselves and are willing to go for everything out there, that they have the best chance of success, but they also have a future?’”1 I couldn’t have expressed the purpose of That’s Gotta Hurt any better. The injuries described in this book span roughly four decades of sports. Chronologically the first landmark surgery presented was Tommy John’s surgery, and it exemplifies the fundamental shift that has occurred over those 40 years. Tommy John suffered an injury that up to that point had ended pitchers’ careers. Orthopaedic surgeons had diagnosed the injury previously; after all, it was first reported back in 1946. Prior to the advent of the MRI and a thorough understanding of the elbow injuries, we did not recognize these injuries in elite pitchers. Dr. Frank Jobe reportedly once remarked that he thought Dodgers great Sandy Koufax might have had a UCL injury.2 Jobe devised a surgical technique that probably sounded ridiculous at the time: taking a tendon from the wrist and implanting it through drill holes in the bones of the elbow. Tommy John himself took an enormous chance by undergoing that surgery; he had a 1 in 100 chance of ever pitching again, Dr. Jobe believed. But what choice did John really have? If he didn’t undergo the untested surgery, he would never pitch again. Today approximately one of every four MLB pitchers has extended his career by undergoing a surgery very similar to the one performed in 1974.3 Sports medicine hasn’t just developed solutions that simply keep people playing sports and exercising; these solutions help athletes and active people return to their activities faster than ever. Instead of a complex knee surgery involving a long incision and months of rehab, Joan Benoit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to compete in—and win—the US Olympic marathon trials 17 days later. 234 / That’s Gotta Hurt Bernard King suffered a horrific knee injury and yet overcame surgery and a grueling rehab to return to play and excel in the NBA. Now over 100,000 people undergo ACL reconstructions every year in the United States alone. Professionals in the field of sports medicine continually aim to better treat injuries, but we also want to prevent the injuries from occurring in the first place. With the help of an institute that bears his name, Korey Stringer’s death from exertional heat stroke, along with deaths of athletes at the youth, high school, and college levels, has brought attention to heat illness in sports and led to changes in sports training and on-site management to make it one of the most preventable injuries or illnesses in sports. Orthopaedic surgeons, athletic trainers, and physical therapists continue to develop and promote neuromuscular training programs to try to prevent ACL injuries—the injury Bernard King and countless numbers of football, basketball, and soccer players and athletes of all sports have suffered. If doing an exercise program for 10 or 15 minutes a day can lower the chances of suffering one of these injuries, it seems reasonable to try. In the process, we just might impact sports for an entire generation of female athletes. Dr. Norman Scott, the former New York Knicks team physician who performed the landmark ACL surgery on Bernard King discussed earlier in this book, summarized just how far sports medicine has come; “I just think when you put it into perspective, sports medicine in the ’70s was somewhat of a joke, and it was nothing more than general orthopaedics in most people’s minds. The sports world has done a spectacular job in making it much more of a science, and that had so much to do with the successes we’re seeing today.”4 As sports medicine moves forward, surgeons, physicians, and other medical professionals have an amazing opportunity. We can improve the careers and performance of elite athletes. We can have an even greater impact, though, on the...


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