Monthly Archives: June 2012

Supreme Court Rules; Injured Student Speaks Up

On Thursday, the Supreme Court made significant history, passing down their decision over the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Pundits were sure in the days leading up to Thursday that the justices would overturn, if nothing else, the individual mandate, which obligates all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty when the market exchanges begin in 2014 (arguably to lower costs through ‘free market’ competition). Contrary to popular opinion, Chief Justice Roberts passed down his ruling of the 5-4 decision, supporting almost every word of the entire law.

Reactionary ripple effects were almost immediate. Some were mad. Others were relieved. But there was one young man who spoke up to share his thoughts. Ben Trockman, a 22 year old college student from Evansville, Indiana, was in a motocross accident when he was 17, causing a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Over the last five years, Ben has made incredible progress as a result of cutting edge technology and practices that, according to him, would not have been available without health insurance.

“We learned, basically, how life is different with an injury such as mine,” said Trockman, “and how to deal with things on a day-to-day basis. We worked with different types of therapy, getting used to my wheelchair, knowing how to treat my body and how dangerous pressure sores were. We gained knowledge about so many important things that would have never been possible because of the extreme expenses, without health insurance. I figured out how much my body could do physically. I spent 3 months doing very intensive therapy, 5 hours a day. I learned so much about the way to treat my body with exercise and how important it was.

“And now, I look around my room, all the important things that make life a little easier… my wheelchair, my alternating air pressure mattress on my bed, the lift above my bed that helps move me to and from… NONE of that would have been affordable without health insurance.”

Much of the health care discussion over the last decade has hinged on the idea that young people don’t purchase insurance because they perceive themselves as less vulnerable to injury and disease, rendering insurance an unreasonable cost in their estimation. Members of both parties had initially been on board with the idea of the so-called individual mandate, requiring all Americans of a certain age to pay for insurance as a means of gaining revenue for a broken health care system. If more people invested into the system, the argument goes, there would be a greater amount of money in the pool, allowing providers to seemingly lower costs to the overall population of Americans who, at some point in their lives, will inevitably need and come under the care of a doctor. At least, that’s the idea. And if Ben has anything to say about it, the more people who have the assurance of care, the better off they’ll be in the long run. He certainly was.

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OMG! Canadian Hockey Coach Trips Teenager, Causing Injury

You read it correctly. And it’s worse than it sounds. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were incredibly forthcoming about a recently arrested hockey coach from British Columbia whose actions will most certainly have consequences. “The coach was arrested. Charges will be forwarded at a later date, pending the results of the investigation.” RCMP Sergeant Paulina Gidda told the Canadian Press. “It was an incident that was unfortunate, and it doesn’t bring a great light to our community.”

Indeed it doesn’t. The currently unnamed coach was clearly disgruntled after a loss and during the friendly handshake on ice, he proceeded to trip one of the smallest teens who passed him by, incidentally causing the taller boy behind him to fall and leading to injured wrists for the target of his wrath. Perhaps most shocking is that this wasn’t even professional hockey. The very reason there were teenagers shaking hands on ice is because it was a youth event. Nothing more. These were 10-12-year-old squads playing against one another between Vancouver and Richmond.

Of course, the “innocent until proven guilty” case is also in play here. Some have argued that the coach may have been frustrated, got his foot tangled with the young man, and the shear nature of the moment led him to act his most childish. Footage of the tripping shows the coach violently pointing at the boy after he trips, so there’s very little to debate.

At the end of the day, more than anything, we hope that the boy will have a full recovery, with no lasting damage to his wrists.

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Update: Hurricane Debby Spawns Tornado Injury

Across the State of Florida, word of mouth spread quickly as citizens asked one another, “Isn’t this a little early to be naming a fourth storm in the gulf?” Indeed it was. Indeed it is. In fact, for an average year, the fourth major storm wouldn’t have come anywhere near Florida until late August. So there is definitely something unique about Tropical Storm Debby.

On Tuesday, June 26, Debby made landfall at around 5pm near Steinhatchee, Florida. Within three hours, she had been downgraded to a tropical depression. However, major flooding continued through the night as waters rose in Jacksonville, leading to multiple water rescues and portions of Interstate 10 going through highway closures.

Perhaps most shocking was that Debby spawned a twister in rural Highlands County, Florida, where a woman, Heather Town, was killed and her three year old daughter, Ann Marie, was injured. The Town home was literally lifted from its foundations and tossed into the nearby woods. When rescue workers found the two, Heather was grasping her child, who was tangled in barbed wire and struggling to breathe. Ann Marie has proven resolute, coming through the tragedy with only a little pain, but she is sure to face an uphill battle emotionally as her extended family now works to comfort not only her, but Heather’s other two daughters, Amber and Angelica. Heather’s father, Elmer Town, considers his daughter a hero, saying that her sacrifice demonstrated exactly the kind of mother she was to her three girls.

As Debby continues to churn through Florida, losing steam throughout the week, citizens should be wary of other dangers, such as flooding and tornadoes, that often travel in the same path as the once frightening storm. Perhaps nothing could have prevented the Town tragedy, but we certainly hope that no one else has to endure such conditions for the remainder of this year’s fourth major storm.

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Avila Knee Makes Tigers Nervous in Detroit

Oh, Detroit. We really, really wish the city could catch a break sometime this millenium. First it was their resurgence into the World Series in 2006, where the Detroit Tigers were heavily favored, but ultimately lost to their underdog opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals in five games. Then there were the auto bailouts, which drew attention to a big city turned ghost town almost overnight. Last year, the Detroit Lions were flying high at 6-0 under the arm of Matthew Stafford until Head Coach Jim Schwartz got into a scuffle with San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and the Lions went south from there. Today, the Tigers are nervous again.

Alex Avila, Detroit’s star catcher, told reporters last October that he didn’t need surgery on his knee, a question that was spurred on by his constant reference to the problem. At the time, the Tigers had just lost Game 6 of the American League Championship to the Rangers and the impending offseason seemed like a reasonable time for the media to ask if he would get himself fixed up. That didn’t happen. Avila planned to just rest the knee without any procedures.

Now he’s in a world of hurt.

“All last year, at least the second half, I was playing with it and got it to a point where this may be something that I didn’t get fully taken care of and didn’t realize what kind of damage I did. I’m getting another opinion today, so we’ll find out what [the doctor] says.”

Avila dropped his batting average from .300 to a .234 and now hits just a .216 average. That’s rough. Manager Jim Leyland is already looking for ways to faze him out, but that doesn’t mean the team and the city isn’t feeling nervous. Anytime you upset the apple cart, people have to wonder if things will fall apart. Should the doctors say that Avila needs surgery, then, of course, we recommend that he heed that advice and get himself taken care of.

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King James Earns Authority, D-Wade Bows to His Knee

An NBA Championship for LeBron James and the Miami Heat should almost be like a Super Bowl Title for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. At some point, you know they have to win. James in particular. They’re all just that good. Something in the world wouldn’t seem right if the now divinely athletic King James didn’t get the chance to hoist his trophy. But here’s the deal. James didn’t win alone. He had the help of friend and teammate Dwayne Wade (who, we might add, already earned a title with the Heat in 2006).

Despite all the hype surrounding James, D-Wade (as they call him) came out of the same rookie class of 2003, having amassed a much more successful resume. Not only that, but the Flash (another nickname) represents more than the game of basketball. His philanthropic services include the Wade’s World Foundation, which aids the health and education of children who are stuck in at-risk situations. So goes the humanity and humility of Wade that while James merited all the praise for last week’s NBA Title against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was silently pretending that his knee was fine, all the while knowing that he had a serious problem.

In 2008, Wade underwent OssaTron treatment on his left knee, sacrificing the final 21 games of the season. He recovered in time to help the U.S. Olympic team win gold in the 2008 Olympics, but now may be up against the possibility of missing the Olympics in London this summer. Throughout this year’s NBA Playoffs, Wade has felt severe pain in the knee, which at one point had to be drained before he could continue playing. Doctors plan to give him an MRI this week and we’ll know the results of that test soon enough.

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With All Eyes on Sandusky, Breneman Tears ACL

Over the past several months, Penn State Football and its readiness for the 2012 Season has been less of a conversation than the recent death of Coach Joe Paterno and the growing case against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for 52 counts of sexual abuse. We can barely open up a newspaper without hearing the ups and downs of the trial. Earlier this week, Sandusky seemed to get a free ride when the defense avoided putting him on the stand. But by Thursday, his adopted son expressed a willingness to testify of his own abuse at the hands of his father. These issues and the victims who were hurt by such actions are no laughing matter. But there are many Penn State players, coaches, and fans who are eager to rebuild the reputation of their once adored program.

One such individual is Penn State senior, Adam Breneman. As a tight end recruit, he was the top prospect for 2013 and was seriously looking for a chance to make a name for himself on the roster. Then he tore his ACL this week and faced a different prospect entirely: that he wouldn’t be playing at all.

“We are very grateful for the outpouring of support over the past 24 hours with regards to Adam’s injury,” said his father. “An MRI this morning confirmed that Adam has a torn ACL in his right knee. While he is disappointed that he will be unable to play football his senior season, he is very optimistic about his future at Penn State and is totally committed to making a full recovery in time for the 2013 season. WE ARE!”

Looks like Penn State is still in for a rough year.

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Wimbledon Loses Monfils to Knee

On Monday, June 25, Wimbledon, England will host more than 60 professional tennis players from both genders. Each has earned a seed based on their performance throughout the past year. Atop the ranks of the Men’s Singles should be no surprise: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray, all names that have been mentioned by the Brace Shop during the same period of months as a result of various injuries. Since everyone expects these four men to be at the front of the tournament, perhaps the other names on the list are of little consquence? Not so.

Both Djokovic and Nadal, who currently sit at Number 1 and Number 2, respectively, have, at one time or another, been ranked far below their competitors. And right now, anyone from David Ferrer (#7) to Mardy Fish (#10) to, yes, Andy Roddick (who surprisingly falls in at #30) has a chance to overtake the leaders. But for one man, the chance of earning glory at Wimbledon is all but finished for the year.

French Tennis Pro, Gael Monfils, withdrew from the tournament on Thursday as a result of a right knee injury. Monfils is one of the few black tennis players of notable mention, having a great deal of Caribbean heritage. He was also a runner up at the Paris Masters in 2009 and 2010 as well as a semifinalist during the 2008 French Open. His absence at Wimbledon leaves a hole for Argentinian star Juan Monaco to slide forward. For the Women’s Singles, Kaia Kanepi of Estonia and Andrea Petkovic of Germany have each withdrawn from Wimbledon for heel and ankle injuries.

As the competition heats up next week, more injuries are almost inevitable.

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The Overused Dancer’s Knee

In recent years, dancers of all ages have been learning more about the problems that so often lead to injury in order to avoid the consequences that come from ignoring the danger. Runners and dancers, in particular, go through what are called ‘repeated weight-bearing impacts’ that place increased pressure between the femur bone and the patella. When that area of the body gets damaged, doctors refer to this as an ‘overuse injury’. Even those who sit down for prolonged periods after the problem has developed are in danger of exacerbating the situation.

Perhaps the most common type of athlete to endure the overuse injury is a ballet dancer. [And yes, they most certainly deserve the title of athlete, however artistic their athleticism may be.] In ballet, dancers try to succeed in demonstrating their art through an ‘improper alignment of the knees’, meaning that they point their knees inward, such as with plies and sautes, placing undue stress on the knee joint and tendon and leading to an incredible amount of pain for the dancer.

Now, for the sake of argument, dancers and runners do like to push themselves to a point where they can achieve movements and feats that others have been unable to accomplish. Hence their tendency to overuse those joints and tendons moreso than the rest of us. But in their efforts to amaze their audiences and fans, successful athletes consistently serve themselves well by giving themselves adequate rest, sufficient water, and a healthier than average diet. Our bodies can always be pushed, but they will never stop being human.

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Voeckler Down with Swollen Knee

When the Union Cycling International teams gather in France next weekend, the best French cyclist will not be riding the circuit. In 2011, Thomas Voeckler crossed the finish line in third place, just three minutes and twenty seconds behind the winner of the Tour de France, Cadel Evans of Australia. And now, with a swollen knee injury, Voeckler hopes to recover for the 2012 Tour de France, which begins on June 30.

Physicians have urged him to rest the knee for at least eight days and Voeckler realizes just how much that will hamper his training for the main event. “It goes against preparations for the Tour,” he said, “but I’ll be fresh without being on top form because I would only have three days of cycling in my legs before the start. I’m also keeping things in perspective, seeing as I’ve been largely spared injuries in my career.”

While Voeckler demonstrates the perspective of an aging cyclist, Evans is nearly two years older and has plans to snatch a second win from the doubters who think last year was a fluke. But Evans has already been humbled by Bradley Wiggins, who beat him during the Dauphine Libere that ended on June 10.

“I came here to try and win,” said Evans, “but I was beaten by a better team and a better guy. It was a week of hard racing and a good bit of training toward July and hopefully my big form of the year so far.”

If Voeckler stays down with a swollen knee, Evans will get a chance to demonstrate his form, but so will Wiggins and a host of other professional cyclists. Given the right care and the best products, Voeckler might just make a full recovery and pull out an awesome upset. We shall see.

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Hightower Returns from Knee Injury

Tim Hightower has always been a winner. With matured success at the University of Richmond, Hightower set school records across the board, achieving 1,920 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior year as a running back with the Spiders. During that stint, he carried the ball 327 times with an average of more than five yards per carry. Now granted, the Spiders are nothing much to look at if they were to ever be matched up against NCAA champions like Oregon or the University of Florida, but Hightower was skilled enough to draw attention.

In 2008, he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals and helped the team walk directly into the Super Bowl while he was just a rookie. But it wasn’t long before his career was riddled with injuries and sub-par expectations. Some have even called him a second tier running back with limited speed in the open field, even when he’s not injured. But just five games into the 2011 season where he was playing as a Washington Redskin, Hightower went down hard with a torn ACL, which has kept him in a slow state of recovery for nearly six months. Now, with a pressure-mounted offseason and plenty of expectations on the Skins to succeed, Hightower is anxious to get back on the field and prove his metal.

Speaking with optimism, he said these words last week:

“We’re going to try to build on what we did last year. We’ve got the same guys, and we’re just going to compete and push each other,” Hightower said. “I don’t think there needs to be much talk right now. We’ve got a lot to prove between all three of us [Roy Helu and Evan Royster], and that’s what we’re going to do.”

In other words, the conversation is mostly about what the team did when he wasn’t a part of it and how he will work with the tandem of Helu and Royster to make Washington a champion again. Coach Mike Shanahan, also a proven winner from Denver, continues to suggest that Hightower is on a day by day evaluation. There’s no reason to rush him back into the game, Shanahan argues. And he’s right. Should there be an accident before the season, any small chance that Hightower had of resurrecting his injury-laden career will be over. Going easy on the lad is better for the athlete, better for the team, and better for those who analyze the health-conscious nature of coaches and medical personnel.

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