PLEASE help me with my sons elbow injury!


#1

My son is in his Junior year and is a catcher. He is being recruited by several Division 1 and other colleges. At the end of last summer at his last showcase event of the summer he strained his elbow and had to undergo rehab for a month then rest for 3 months. We made a tremendous and costly mistake three weeks ago when a winter showcase came to town…my son only threw for about a week prior to this showcase then showed up and threw max effort. When he threw his pop time to 2b he had immediate pain. long story short, we ended up in Dr. Andrews office a week later. They have found a small tear in his UCL. Dr. Andrews said that he wants him to rehab it for 6 weeks and after two weeks during the rehab he will start a light throwing program that works up to more intensity as it goes along to try to get him ready for the season since he needs to play this year to have a good chance of signing with the larger colleges that are giving him attention. Dr. Andrews told us that if he works through it and doesnt feel pain then he should be able to go but if he does feel consistent pain then Tommy Johns surgery will have to take place.

I have a few questions…Please understand that my son has worked for a long time and the last few years have really been intense once we found out that colleges were interested in him. He has worked with a personal trainer consistently, been to several showcase events, and to several camps, and has very big plans for this summer which should help him secure a scholarship and roster slot at the school he really wants to go to and if not then another good school. I am asking for anyone that has true educated knowledge on this issue to help me understand his chances of recovery with a tear. If I can be so bold, Please do not give me doom and gloom observations if you truly do not have some educated knowledge on the subject. Our entire family is scared enough. I would just like to know to the best of all of you guys knowledge what my sons chances are of him making a recovery and playing this season with a small tear in his UCL.

Our plans are to get on an elbow, forearm, and shoulder strength building program with band work to strengthen the connective tissue and muscle in his elbow and shoulder to maximize his potential for recovery.

Thank you so much for any help and advice and educated opinions that you can offer us. We are so scared he will rehab this thing and get halfway through the season and then it tear completely or too severely to play without surgery. I completely trust Dr. Andrews and he was truly concerned and compassionate…even after seeing most likely thousands of these surgeries and injuries, he treated my son like he genuinely cared about him and his staff was amazing but it still does not ease the pain of wondering what chances my son truly has of recovery without surgery.


#2

Yo Junkie…stop and think for a minute…just on this statement.

Now stop…do it again…

This man is the pre-eminent surgeon on this issue in THE WORLD!!!
I could offer no more optimistic statement than his.
Right now, you, your wife and your boy need to plan on how not to allow this to effect the future. It sounds as if you do already have a plan for rehab and conditioning it for after he recovers. Keep in mind that even after Tommy John surgery whole bunches of fellas go on to many many years professional play…heck yesterday I heard that Coco Crisp had labrum and rotor cuff tears in BOTH of his shoulders and has been surgically repaired AND will play this major league season. There is NOTHING to fear when you face a challenge and attack it. If your boy has that burning desire, he will find a way to play. I would suggest as his dad that you continue to educate yourself, bumps will present themselves on this road and it is important for you to provide stability and guidance for the kid to fall back on…(Oh how I miss the fun I know you guys will have in the next few seasons…it’ll be hard…but isn’t that what makes it even more worth while?). Show confidence in your boy, do things like this to educate yourself…have a good video camera, so you can capture the great times and memories that are upcoming.


#3

Yo Junkie…stop and think for a minute…just on this statement.

Now stop…do it again…

This man is the pre-eminent surgeon on this issue in THE WORLD!!!
I could offer no more optimistic statement than his.
Right now, you, your wife and your boy need to plan on how not to allow this to effect the future. It sounds as if you do already have a plan for rehab and conditioning it for after he recovers. Keep in mind that even after Tommy John surgery whole bunches of fellas go on to many many years professional play…heck yesterday I heard that Coco Crisp had labrum and rotor cuff tears in BOTH of his shoulders and has been surgically repaired AND will play this major league season. There is NOTHING to fear when you face a challenge and attack it. If your boy has that burning desire, he will find a way to play. I would suggest as his dad that you continue to educate yourself, bumps will present themselves on this road and it is important for you to provide stability and guidance for the kid to fall back on…(Oh how I miss the fun I know you guys will have in the next few seasons…it’ll be hard…but isn’t that what makes it even more worth while?). Show confidence in your boy, do things like this to educate yourself…have a good video camera, so you can capture the great times and memories that are upcoming.[/quote]

This is so true. My colleges pitching staff in the past two years has had 4 tommy johns and 3 labrum/rotator cuff surgeries. Everyone is on pace to have full recoveries and three of them are already throwing harder than they ever have before.


#4

baseballjunkie1968

I believe you’ve taken your first step at resolving this issue by airing out your feelings right here in this forum.

Take it easy on yourself here, while it is possible your son wouldn’t have aggravated his injury had he not participated in the winter showcase, it is by no means a certainty and there is no reason to fix blame on anyone.

I have two close friends whose pitching sons went through very similar challenges. They rehabilitated the arm a couple times and then finally tore the UCL to the point where Tommy John surgery was recommended. Both were treated by Dr. Andrews and both have enjoyed alot of success on the bump.

Many many players are recruited by DI schools and sit out their first year on a medical redshirt and many late round draft picks out of high school chose to go to a top DI and play mostly on developmental squads. So I think there is plenty of time here for rehab.

It is fantastic that you have such a well thought out plan for success. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Well, most times. So being adaptable is a valuable trait. I want to reiterate something JD mentioned. Tommy John surgery and rehab is not the end really. For most it is just a new beginning. There are real struggles involved, don’t get me wrong but his talent will not disappear on the operating room table if that happens.

Good Luck.


#5

Thank you guys very much for your valuable thoughts. It does make me feel better. Now that I have done some research on the actual surgery, Im not worried at all about his recovery…in fact, if you look at how the surgery is actually done WOW, they almost have a better arm than before and in some cases they do. My problem is the timing. If he got his deal already, I wouldnt be worried but being that it is his Junior year…everything has to fall into place. He has to be able to perform this summer or the chances of him getting the offer he wants from the school he wants is slim. I realize things change and you go from there but you know how it is, neither he or our family wants to give up on his dream of playing for this particular school and people in “The Know” tell me that he is on track to making it there.

My main concern is still just not knowing how his arm will hold up with a slight tear. Can any of you give any life experiences, opinions, and science or whatever you can offer on the chances of making through this Junior year with a slight tear in his arm being that he is a catcher ??

Thanks again , I love this forum.


#6

I had two partial tears before a third led me to Tommy John surgery. The delay of surgery helped me develop as a player, but surgery really was inevitable, especially when I added significant velocity and innings in college.

If your son is a junior and makes it through free and clear, then fine. If not, and he has to get surgery even later, it could put his career in jeopardy, as college coaches don’t sign injured players in most circumstances, and certainly not for any money.

Partial tears are a crap shoot - the ligament is weakened and doesn’t stretch or respond the way it naturally would. I made it only 3 years after my first tear, and only 8 months after my second before velocity starting waning and symptoms began tearing of what later became a full tear.

Best advice would be for him to adhere to the doctor’s wishes, rehab, and then take his forearms and hands to a new level beyond that. The only real defense is having flexible hips and shoulders and incredibly strong shoulders, forearms and hands.

My website has a ton of information on all of this if you are looking for more about the surgery or rehab.


#7

I am a college pitcher that has just undergone the Tommy John Elbow surgery. I had my surgery done by a good friend of Dr. Andrews, Dr. David Ruch at Duke University. It is believed by the medical staff that the original injury occurred over the 2009 summer. From that summer through this past fall my velocity dropped from peaking at 92 mph to peaking at 83 mph. I had multiple tears and a partial detachment of the ligament from the ulna bone. Once the ligament is torn, it will not recover on its own. All the rehab can do is strengthen the muscles around the ligament to provide adequate support of the joint. My doctor had given me two options, have a reattachment of the ligament in which I could have been able to play this summer and maybe, I emphasize the maybe, get one more season before I would need the full Tommy John operation. The other option was to go ahead and have the reconstruction (TJ) which is the option I chose. The operation is not guaranteed to make your arm come back stronger and throw harder. I am not saying for your son to go ahead and have the operation at his age. The key is how serious he will take the rehab. It is the rehab that causes the arm to come back stronger, as long as you do it all correctly and put the hard work into it. Most players that have the operation and do not come back to previous form try to rush or do not take their rehab serious enough thinking the ligament will automatically be stronger. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the operation so I will explain what the process entails. Depending on what your family and doctor are more comfortable with, a tendon from a cadaver could be used or a tendon from your own sons body. I chose to have my own tendon used. They will either use an accessory tendon from the hamstring or the palmaris longus tendon from the wrist/forearm of the throwing arm, it tends to be stronger than that of the not throwing arm. The doctor will drill 3 holes through the Ulna bone, Humerous bone and through the joint itself. Then the tendon used will be strung through these holes in a figure 8 pattern. Over the course of the rehab the tendon will adapt to its new role as a ligament, and learn to carry blood. This is the reason the rehabilitation time and recovery time is so extensive. They say the average recovery time for pitchers is 12-16 months, while for position players it is closer to 8. The surgery may take anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours. I know with how much I love the game of baseball not being able to even go out and play catch with a buddy or my father absolutely kills me. So far that is by far the worst part of the surgery, just to be away from the game of baseball. I wish your son the best with his injury and hope that he can come back and avoid the surgery!