Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sanchez Injury Seals Win for Pittsburgh

Sanchez Further Injured His Shoulder Against Pittsburgh

Sanchez Further Injured His Shoulder Against Pittsburgh

The morning after a devastating playoff loss can be somewhat lethargic for the professionals who now must admit that their season has ended.  They’re beat.  Both physically and mentally, they’re finished.  More than anyone else, perhaps, this will hit hardest for Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets, who lost his second AFC Conference Championship game in two years and once again fell short of the Super Bowl after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-19.

During a late second quarter play, Sanchez was winding up for a pass and took a pounding on his shoulder, which caused a fumble that was recovered and run back for a touchdown by the Steelers.  His throwing shoulder was already facing questions and this hit only added to the speculation.  When he got up from the turf after the throw, he was visibly hurting, but he soon returned to finish the game, throwing 20 of 33 for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Had Sanchez managed to hold onto the ball when his shoulder took a shot, the score might have been 19-17, Jets win.

Ah, but these are the hard knocks.  Sanchez may now need to have surgery on his throwing shoulder during the offseason, but his arm was already weaker than other quarterbacks in the NFL.  A surgical procedure, regardless of the rehabilitation, could impact his future potential of making a third shot to win an AFC title game.  What a drag for last year’s star rookie, but the Steelers have always been known as a defensive onslaught and the young man from Southern California was inevitably going to face a beating from the black and gold.  Terrible towels aside, Sanchez played as tough as he could and still came up short.  As they say, there’s always next year.

Pro Bowl: Brady Out, Cassel In

Tom Brady has a track record for missing the Pro Bowl when he loses in the playoffs (something we might call competitive pouting), but it generally accompanies some sort of injury that was ignored during the regular season.  Throughout the 2010 season, Brady continued to play on a stress fracture in his right foot, but it wasn’t having an impact on his playing performance.  After all, the man earned a unanimous selection for the 2010 NFL All-Pro team by a panel of 50 sports media experts.  He may even nab the award for Most Valuable Player, beating out the likes of Michael Vick or Aaron Rodgers.

Last Thursday, Brady underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and the results appear to be positive.  He had a screw placed in his navicular bone, one of the smaller tarsus bones.  The reason he was arguably allowed to play throughout the year (or was even capable of playing) is that his foot injury didn’t fall on a more weight-bearing bone.  In other words, yes, the stress fracture needed to be addressed, but no, the occasional pain was not disabling.  More than likely, doctors say that Brady will need to wear a walking boot for the next six weeks, but his recovery should be flawless and a healthy return to next season is unquestionable.

For now, however, the Pro Bowl will again miss the Brady experience.  In his stead, Matt Cassel, who once backed him up in New England but has shown a remarkable surge in Kansas City, will take at least a quarter of the snaps for the AFC.  It remains to be seen whether anyone will actually tune in to watch the Pro Bowl this year, but that’s why they moved it to the week before Super Bowl XLV, so as to avoid losing football fans like they do every year.

Cutler Criticized for His Toughness

Cutler Loses to Rodgers, Faces Criticism

Cutler Loses to Rodgers, Faces Harsh Criticism

My, my, my.  While Sunday was filled with on-the-field action and superstar performances in the NFL Conference championships, the morning after has been filled with never-before-seen drama and cutthroat slander in the court of public opinion.  Jay Cutler, who often gets criticized for an apathetic ho-hum attitude, has rarely been criticized for his toughness.  But during the 24-hour news cycle that followed the Chicago Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers, you might have thought Cutler was nothing more than a twig of a man. 

Bears’ fans and haters alike (including several NFL players) joined together on Twitter to burn this quarterback in virtual effigy.  All they knew was that he played in the first half, went into the locker room at halftime, then sat on the bench in the second half as doctors told reporters that he had hurt his knee.  The criticism moved through pools of frustration as fans, especially, were noting that he showed no pain on the sideline, nor did he seem to be interested in giving aid to the two backup QBs who took his place.  “Poor Jay,” they would argue, “just sits on the bench feeling sorry for himself.  In a game this big, any other professional would play through the pain.  He should try to emulate Brett Favre.”  Really?

Well, the truth of the matter is that Cutler was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL going into Sunday’s game.  This, as a result of a really poor offensive line, caught up with him when he took a punishing hit in the second quarter and still played to the end of the half.  When he went into the locker room, doctors examined his injury and classified it as a sprained MCL.  Why shouldn’t he play on it?  Because a sprain of this nature means the outside of the knee has collapsed inward, thereby causing the inside of the knee to widen.  Playing on a sprained MCL without the proper rehabilitation has the potential of risking the end of a player’s career.  Nevermind a single game.  Mr. Cutler is still in his late 20s, which means his NFL career hasn’t even crossed the half way point.

Regardless of the Twitter conversation that has, at times, sounded like a clip from ‘Mean Girls’, Jay Cutler has enough of an NFL track record to show that he’s a pretty tough guy.  But for the next several weeks of his offseason, you’ll probably find that he’s wearing one of the many MCL braces used to aid in restoring a knee to its full strength.  If there is any criticism to shell out, which there certainly is, the better issue of concern is why Cutler chose to warm the bench when he could have been discussing the offense with his backup.

Wyoming Legislation: Dealing with Child Safety

Bill Landen, R-Casper, is a State Senator in WY

Bill Landen is a State Senator in WY

With all that’s been discussed and changed with regard to head injuries at the professional and college levels, Americans may be surprised to know that their high school and junior high children don’t necessarily have the same protection from state to state.  A coach may be ignorant of a child’s concussion and, seeking to win the game, unknowingly put them right back in the middle of danger.  Head injuries are especially true of high school football players and even high school cheerleading (imagine hitting your head against the sideline turf when your peers fail to catch your fall).

In Wyoming, one state senator hopes to change this for his constituents, mainly the parents of children who love to play sports.  Bill Landen, a Republican from Casper, is looking to clamp down on this problem, but faces a moderate ho-hum from congressional leaders since Wyoming coaches are already under contract in their districts to take all precautionary measures for underage safety.  Is it necessary for the state to require coaches to receive very specific training and education on head injuries so that they can know what to look for?  Is it necessary for the state to require student athletes to obtain written consent from a physician before coming back on the field after a concussion?  One would hope so.

The question is, perhaps, more of an idealistic one.  Does a state government need to reinforce something that school districts already require from their coaches?  Is the risk really so severe as to make it a legislative conversation in the state of Wyoming?  Who knows.  As parents, teachers, and coaches, hopefully we never lose sight of a child’s safety in an effort to earn wins on a scoreboard.  Landen may just end up drawing attention to a national concern at a local level.  If so, props.

Indoor Biking: Watch Out for Poor Posture

This time of year, when the weather never seems quite right for a good outdoor run and the snow-filled streets make biking an impossible exercise, many turn to their nearby gyms and weight rooms to keep up their heart rate.  One such activity is indoor biking, usually in front of a television that plays ESPN or The View.  But Chinese doctors have recently noted an unexpected concern for indoor biking: injuries to the lower back.

When we hop on an actual bicycle, we tend to move around with our upper body and not crouch in a ‘stationary’ position.  On a stationary bike, however, our tendency is to lean over the handle and keep peddling.  This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the lower back, creating a need for frequent indoor bikers to visit a rehabilitation clinic with aching that they can’t identify.  Perhaps you may find the idea of a cycling class to be ridiculous, but believe it or not, one of the things that instructors focus on is ensuring their participants are maintaining a correct posture over the course of a near-60 minute workout.

If indoor biking is among the activities that you do on a regular basis and you’ve been feeling some unexpected lower back pain, you may want to consult with a doctor to see if a brace would be helpful during your exercise regiment.  The Brace Shop offers a great selection of belts and supports that may help relieve some of the stress hitting your lower back.  One example is the ProCare ComfortFORM Back Support, which aids the lumbar and abdominal regions of the body to promote proper spinal alignment.  Poor posture can ruin a great exercise routine.  Consider your back the next time you hop on one of those indoor bikes.

A Frozen Movie Review: To Fear or Not to Fear

In light of the recent accident up on Sugarloaf Ski Resort a couple of weeks ago, I decided to scroll through my Netflix Queue and pull up a film that had been on my list for several months.  The 2010 film, Frozen, was supposed to be about three friends who get stuck on a chairlift and struggle for survival.  Sounded like another Cast Away with Tom Hanks… lots of monologues and dead silence.   Boy, was I wrong.  Well, not necessarily about the ‘dead’ silence.

Our story begins with three friends – two best friends, Dan and Joe, and Dan’s girlfriend Parker – who schmooze their way onto a ski mountain even though only Dan has paid for his own lift ticket.  After a day of teaching Parker how to ski the bunny hills, Joe feels an urgent need to ski a more mature mountain and convinces the other two to go back up for a final run before the lift closes.  After a bit of coaxing, they manage to convince the lift operator to let them on (why not, right?) and there begins our incredibly realistic and suprisingly terrifying hour of horror.

Nothing in the film was out of the ordinary.  No aliens or monsters.  No serial killers or criminally insane.  Just the raw reality of trying to survive outside in the most impossible temperatures known to mankind and doing so from several stories above the ground with no logically safe way to get help.  If you enjoy scary films, then you will absolutely love Frozen.  At least three times I can remember my jaw dropping and my hand going to cover my mouth in shock.  But if I use this time to tell you what caused the shock, you may never watch. 

As they say, it’s just a movie.  People don’t get stuck on chairlifts for days at a time in the real world.  Go have fun this ski season and be careful.  It really is cold out there.

Newton Enters NFL Draft – No Word on His Injury

Cam Newton Announced Plans to Enter the Draft in 2011

Quite literally, just a day after the Brace Shop announced that Cam Newton might be suffering from a serious lower back injury after the BCS National Championship (Eye of a Tiger), Newton came forward and announced that he was entering the 2011 NFL Draft.  Good for him.  Well, take that with a grain of salt.

More than likely, the young Cam feels that he has peaked in his college career and need not go again for a final year that, chances are, would not end with a second Heisman or a second BCS title.  And we can understand that.  The problem is, a final year in college also means finishing a degree that may come in handy if that dream of a superstar NFL career doesn’t come to pass.  Why all the speculation and pessimism?  Following the game, Newton was rushed to have x-rays regarding his lower back, but during his NFL announcement just two days later, no word was said about the injury.  Could be nothing.  Could be everything.  We just don’t know because all has been quiet on the Tiger frontier.

To be fair, the lower back is the most common place to have a back injury and almost everyone goes through it from time to time after some kind of strenuous movement.  Lifting a box without the strength of your knees or bending down regularly to work in the garden can equally add to the aching.  But what Newton experienced was not a gradual aching or misuse.  No.  Cam Newton took a blow to the back and it remains to be seen whether this NFL Draft conversation will change in the weeks and months ahead if news comes out suggesting he has any long term damage.  On the other hand, all this pessimism could amount to nothing and Newton might just be the next Joe Montana or Troy Aikman.  We’ll keep you posted.

John Carlson Against the Frozen Turf

Carlson’s head hit the frozen turf in Chicago”Carlsons head hit the frozen turf in Chicago

Some would have said it was inevitable that the Seattle Seahawks were going to lose on Sunday.  If not against Chicago, then against Green Bay.  The gods of football had not anointed a team with a losing record to go on and win any championship.  Not this year at least.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t give Coach Pete Carroll and Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck credit for trying.  Unfortunately, in a game that they were destined to lose, they not only ended their improbable run, but they managed to see two of their notable players get carted off the field.  Not just walked off the field, but carted.

John Carlson earned a first down and received a legal hit toward the sideline, but was flipped head first into the frozen turf.  ESPN had reported earlier in the day that when workers removed the blue tarp from the field, shards of ice were spilling out onto the ground.  The area they did not focus on cleaning up was the painted sideline.  And as you might think, the sideline was the coldest and hardest ground a head could land on.

After nearly ten minutes of delay, a cart came out to remove Carlson from the field, but that wasn’t the end of it for Seattle.  Safety Marcus Trufant went down in the middle of the third quarter when Chicago’s tight end Kellen Davis hit him in the head with a knee while being tackled.  Enter: Cart #2.  Trufant was driven off the field with yet another head injury to stack up for the Seahawks.

Word is that both men are not critically injured, which is good news for Seattle, even though they fly home without a win.  Head injuries are not necessarily common in the NFL, but they do happen.  And they can be pretty scary.  The Brace Shop has your ‘back’ for all head injuries that need a remedy.

Children Sledding To the Hospital

A Parent Sledding with His Children

A Parent Sledding with His Children

We always hear of the familiar winter injuries from skiing and snowboarding, but what of snow-blowing and sledding?  Wait.  Back up.  Was that snow-blowing?  Indeed.  Last week, Rhode Island reported an absurd number of adults rushing into the ER with maimed fingers that were caught in a snow-blower.   But while the adults were trying to clear the streets, children took to the hills with a sled and a day off from school.

A new report has suggested that kids who span the ages between 10 and 14 are most likely to get seriously injured from sledding (that is, injured to the point of needing to check in at the local hospital with a blow to the head).  Boys age 11 are the kings of high-risk sledding because parents have begun to pull back on their 24-hour monitoring.  This doesn’t mean that danger should prevent children from enjoying the snow and trying to slide down a hill when the blizzard leaves a white blanket nearby.  What it means is that our moms, dads, uncles, aunts, and grandparents must spend a little more time having the ‘safety talk’ with these kids while potentially going out to model safe sledding practices (having fun at the same time!).  The last thing anyone wants to see, least of all a parent, is their child on a stretcher at the bottom of a sledding hill.  Were that to happen, you know that the Brace Shop has you covered for the recovery process (see our section on pediatric braces), but let’s work to maintain safety for these kids long before the accident.  

Apart from guidance, adolescent children are prone to take risks that wiser adults would not take.  Our goal should be to minimize those risks without discouraging them from the fun that sledding can bring when done safely.  Here are a few no-brainer tips for kids to hear from their caregiver:

  • Wear a helmet if you plan to be sledding head-first
  • You are not invincible
  • Do not slide toward trees or big objects at the bottom of a hill
  • Do not make it your goal to slide into other sledders
  • Your sled does not have a steering wheel, so if you have a last second concern, it’s already too late

Last of all, tell them to simply have fun and be careful.  Your goal isn’t to destroy the activity, but again, to help minimize the risk that comes from sliding down a sheet of ice on a piece of plastic.

Eye of a Tiger: Newton Pays for His Win

Cam Newton Wins the BCS at a Price

On Monday night, Cam Newton stepped onto the field as the 2010 Heisman winner to lead his Auburn Tigers against the Oregon Ducks for the BCS National Championship.  No, they weren’t underdogs facing Apollo Creed in the ring (a la, Rocky Balboa), but their win did come with a heavy price tag.  Newton took an unfortunate blow to the back toward the end of the game and may, just may, find himself excused from the NFL draft if, by chance, he had wanted to skip his senior to play in the big leagues.  Commentators have not yet heard about the full extent of Cam’s injury and doctors may be careful about how quickly they release that information, so as to avoid the premature fortune-telling that comes with such announcements.

Truth is, an injury at the peak of someone’s early career is not all that abnormal.  But over the next several weeks, the young Newton will need to be careful that he doesn’t put career before health and somehow risk further damage.  Such a brash move might prematurely end his professional opportunities before they even begin.  Who knows?  Injuries could already be severe enough,  forcing him to use his degree in Business Administration for something other than playing sports.  Lower back injuries are not a death sentence, but depending on the degree of their severity, they do require a serious level of attention.

There will always be those who wish him no goodwill after the much-hyped controversy that surrounded his father’s hand in fighting to have him play elsewhere, but Cam Newton has demonstrated his skill at the quarterback position.  The Tigers beat Oregon 22-19 with Newton throwing for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  Oh, and then he ran the ball 22 times for an additional 65 yards on the ground.  Almost sounds like the reincarnation of Michael Vick (hopefully without a prison sentence for illegal activities).