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Overcoming Sports Injuries

Sports injuries of the hand, wrist and elbow are common. Whether from summer activities such as rollerblading or skateboarding, or winter ones such as snowboarding or skiing, these injuries frequently occur when the participant loses balance and outstretches their arm to break their fall. Many of these injuries can be prevented by wearing proper protective gear such as wrist guards. Sometimes, though, the injury is unavoidable.

Overcoming Sports Injury: A Patient Story

Charles S. Day, MDThe clock was ticking down and it appeared the Newton South Lions basketball team would not make it to the playoffs. With two seconds left, the ball found its way into the hands of Andrew Kuo. Dr. Charles Day, who was in the stands watching, was on the edge of his seat. 

"I was thinking take it, take the shot." says Day, Chief of  Orthopaedic Hand Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Everyone jumped to their feet."

Kuo aimed with his right hand....and hit a 3 point jumper just as the buzzer sounded, clinching the Lions post-season spot. It was a tremendous feat considering just 4 months earlier, Dr. Day had performed major surgery on that wrist.

"I've hit the game winning shot before but that was extra special," Kuo says. "The crowd rushed on to the court. It felt good."

Kuo suffered the injury in May of 2004 when he went up for a shot during a pickup game and fell on his wrist-- and hit the pavement--hard. The first doctor he saw put the wrist in a cast for six weeks, hoping it would get better on its own.

"Andrew was pretty upset because he lived to play basketball," says Leslie Kuo, Andrew's mother. "Your senior year is when you're supposed to show everyone how wonderful you are and he missed playing for the whole summer."

When the wrist didn't mend, the family sought out the opinion of Dr. Day. While the injury was difficult to see on an MRI, Dr. Day determined through a detailed physical exam that Andrew had a tear in one of the more important ligaments in the wrist and would need surgery. 

"He fell on his outstretched hand, which is a very common sports injury," says Dr. Day, noting that he sees similar injuries in skateboarders, skiers, hockey players and soccer players. 

To repair the wrist, Dr. Day and his team had to pull the partially torn ligament back to its original position and firmly reattach it to the bone. He likens it to a trampoline that has been torn in one of its attachment sites and needs to be tightened to continue to support activity. 

"After surgery, most people are able to return to what they were doing before," says Day. "I've had a high success rate with this procedure." 

Andrew attends New York University, studying finance and management. Now that he's settled in with his studies, he has hopes of returning to the court--joining the college basketball team next fall.

"They almost got into the national tournament this year," Kuo says. "It would be exciting. I just want to play again."

Contact Information

The Hand Program
BID - Needham
148 Chestnut Street
Needham, MA 02492