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Elbow Excellence Through Tommy John Surgery

One of the major advancements in sports medicine in the last 35 years, surgical repair of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is named for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John, the first person to successfully undergo the procedure in 1974. John returned to the mound two years later.
This procedure, invented and pioneered by Dr. Frank Jobe, reconstructs a torn UCL by using a tendon from somewhere else in the body, such as the forearm or hamstring. The UCL, along with the lateral collateral ligament, gives the elbow stability. Before this operation, pitching careers usually ended when the UCL was damaged. The surgery is now common among collegiate and professional athletes in several sports, most notably baseball.
Tommy John surgery is necessitated when these two ligaments, which connect the humerus (the bone of the upper arm) to the ulna (the larger forearm bone), are

  • torn by injury or dislocation
  • damaged or overstretched from improper healing of an injury
  • stressfully overused, as would be typical of a college-level or professional pitcher

As important as the surgery itself is the rehabilitation period, which—to return to the previous level of expertise—can last approximately a year for pitchers and about six months for other baseball players and athletes. After a week to 10 days during which the elbow is immobilized, rehabilitation includes working back to a full range of motion, followed by gradual strength training at about four months postsurgery. Also crucial during this period are exercises to improve flexibility and coordination, as well as aerobic conditioning to improve overall fitness.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
Tom Willemann

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