Wear and tear on Kevin Ware’s tibia

Steven Walker, ‘Doah Staff Writer
April 10, 2013 

Kevin WareWhat a year it has been for the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. Every year upsets surprise players and fans alike. However, this year, madness doesn’t even begin to describe the one “upset” that shocked our nation, Kevin Ware’s broken tibia.

Louisville Cardinal Kevin Ware suffered a traumatizing injury in the NCAA regional championship game against the Duke Blue Devils, which has been labeled as shocking, bizarre and gruesome. The sophomore guard broke his right tibia, the larger and stronger of the two bones in the leg below the knee which connects the knee with the anklebones.

The young athlete went up to block a shot and in a flash was on his back near Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. At the time he was almost unaware he was suffering from a compound tibia fracture — a fracture in which broken bone fragments lacerate soft tissue and protrude through an open wound in the skin. The injury startled players and fans on both teams, some to tears, as emergency medical personnel quickly moved to cover the wound with towels.

Ware continued to stay positive despite battling a mild level of shock from his injury, even telling his teammates to “win the game, win the game,” which they did, 85-63. He was treated with antibiotics and rushed into a two-hour surgery to reconstruct what experts have described as a “freak accident.”

Friends, teammates and coaches supported Ware as he awoke in his Methodist Hospital room in Indianapolis. Emotions were running high as he opened his eyes to not only see his friends and family, but also the Midwest Regional championship trophy. Ware told ESPN that “tears just started coming down” when he saw his best friend and roommate, forward Chane Behanan, and his other teammates for the first time after the surgery. “It was a brother moment,” he said.

Ware has soaring hopes to make the best and quickest recovery possible that will get him back on the court.

In an interview with CNN he stated, “I think God puts things in your life and you have to go through certain obstacles. I just feel like these are obstacles that are going to make me grow up for the better. It’s going to open my eyes to a lot of things I probably haven’t seen before.” Reportedly, his leg will need eight to 12 weeks to heal before he begins rehabilitation.

As his leg heals, many people still wonder how such a routine act of jumping to block a shot resulted in such a horrifying outcome.

How could just the force of Ware’s own body cause such a strong bone to shatter like it did? Professionals say there are a few factors that can contribute to such breaks in well-trained athletes, that aren’t caused by enormous amounts of force packed into normal collisions or falls that can occur during play.

One factor could be a prior, smaller injury like a stress fracture. Something like this could have left his tibia weaker and more vulnerable to a fracture.

“He probably had a pre-existing stress fracture or some inherent weakness in the bone. It’s unlikely this was a normal bone. People go up all the time and block shots,” says Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a former sideline physician for the New York Jets.

Specialists have stated that other contributing factors that could be related to the injury may deal with bone density, diet and vitamin D levels.

Recent studies have shown that most Americans have low levels of vitamin D, in part because they spend more time indoors and don’t take advantage of the natural synthesis of vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun’s rays.

“If vitamin D levels are low, which they tend to be in the Midwest, most nutritionists suggest supplements. Also an efficient amount of calcium is needed for healthy, strong bone structure. Experts say even well trained athletes such as Ware still have diet deficiencies.

“I thought to myself, how did this happen?” said Ware. A sentiment many of us have been having. Although puzzled by this injury we move on, much like Ware. In his interview with ESPN he said, “I never watched the replay. I never want to.”

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