I spent the majority of my Sunday with NFL in the background, a little more focused on decorating my house with Christmas lights, garlands, and anything else that’s shiny and bright. But fear not! I still tracked down any injuries. (#multitasking) The only difference was that I was excel spreadsheeting in an elf costume! And now I digress… Week 14 brought to us a miserable 49 injuries (woof!). Shall we compare how this week did? Yes! Without further adieu: week 15 by the numbers:
44 = Number of players who missed game time due to injury.
8 = Number of players placed on season-ending IR.
2 = Number of hand fractures.
15 = Number of starting quarterbacks that have missed game time due to injury this season.
There have been a shocking number of injured quarterbacks this year. To be exact, 15 NFL teams that have been forced to toss their backup quarterback into the game this at some point. This week we witnessed injuries to Drew Stanton (Arizona Cardinals), Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers), Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Houston Texans), Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans), and Colt McCoy (Washington Redskins). Yowza! How ridiculous is that! The week 15 quarterback plague hit in many different ways. Newton fractured transverse processes in his back (similar to Tony Romo) after a car accident whereas Peyton Manning pulled a thigh muscle trying to block for his running back. Fitzpatrick, Locker, and McCoy were all placed on injured reserve with a broken bone, torn ligament, and damaged muscle, respectively. And last, but not least, Stanton suffered a partially torn ACL. To each gentleman, good luck with recovery! And feel free to click on the “Contact” tab above if you need a second opinion or additional help (teehee).
Hand injury. Also known as “blessure à la main” in French or “mamaaa, owie on mah haaand” in kid talk. The first thing that always comes to mind when I think about the hand is this:
The second thing I think of when I’m talking about hand injuries is, “Geez, this body part is complex!” Heck yeah it is! There’s a wackload of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, toilet paper, pasta, milk, and Lucky Charms in such a tiny space. Oh wait a sec – I might have started reading off my grocery list at the end there.
The third thing I think of when I’m talking about hand injuries is, “I better fix this problem properly!” Why? Because everyone needs their hand to function! It would be frustrating to type up this blog without a hand. It would be annoying to scroll through this blog and share it on Facebook without a hand. And it would be devastating to be incapable of high fiving your friend who you showed this blog to because you both enjoyed it so much.
So then my question for you is: can a professional football player play with a broken hand? Let’s bring Trent Cole and DeMarco Murray into the spotlight to investigate this dilemma further. C’mon guys, my readers don’t bite!
Cole is a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles and Murray is a running back for the Dallas Cowboys. Both men were diagnosed with a hand fracture. Unfortunately, the injury reports on Cole are not readily available. I only know he broke one of the 22 bones in his hand. Which one will remain a mystery. So, Cole, you can exit stage left over there. Please accept this free weekly membership to www.yegphysiotherapy.com as a thank you gift for stopping by!
Murray, on the other hand (hehe), has been everywhere in the NFL media over these last few days – likely because he will have a huge impact on fantasy leagues worldwide. Picture your husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or boy/girl who is a friend with his/her entire fantasy season on the line. They’ve got Murray on their team but they don’t know if he’s going to play in the Cowboys’ matchup against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. They’re pulling pedals from a flower and whispering, “He’ll play, he won’t play, he’ll play, he won’t play.” Calm down, dude! Let me provide a little insight on Murray’s injury. It might give you a better idea if he he’ll be ready for Sunday or not!
Murray broke his fourth metacarpal in his left (and non-dominant) hand. The metacarpals are bones in your palm that connect your wrist to your fingers. There are five of them. Look at your hand. Right now. Extend your fingers. Here’s a quick step-by-step anatomy lesson of the hand bones:
- Start at the fingernail of your fourth (or ring) finger. Underneath your fingernail is a tiny, cute baby brother bone called the distal phalanx.
- Slide down to the bone just past your first knuckle. Here, you’re resting on the forgotten middle brother bone called the middle phalanx.
- Keep on sliding past your second knuckle. You’re on the big brother bone that is called the proximal phalanx.
- Now for the money maker. Go past your biggest knuckle (aka the one you would punch with) and poke into your palm. The long, skinny mama bone here is called the metacarpal. If you haven’t deviated from your ring finger, you are on the exact bone that Murray broke! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the fourth metacarpal.
On Monday, Murray went for surgery to fixate his metacarpal fracture. This means an orthopedic surgeon placed a small plate beside the broken bone and attached the plate to the bone with some screws. This surgery provides the hand with immediate stability and ensures that the bone will be properly aligned when healed. In the x-ray picture on the right, you can see the plate and screws along the fifth metacarpal.
In any of us regular folk (who may or may not be over-indulging in Christmas baking right now), it could take anywhere from 6-12 weeks for this fracture to heal enough to restore full function and return to activity! That means after 6-12 weeks of range of motion, strengthening, and functional exercises, we will once again be able to double fist snowman-shaped cookies.
So what I’m saying is that Murray is likely done for the rest of the season, right? Wrong! Murray – unlike the rest of us who now have cookie crumbs smeared all over our faces and festive sweaters – is an elite professional athlete. He’s arguably the best player on the Cowboys right now, accounting for almost 40% of the entire team’s offense yards. If he doesn’t play on Sunday, he’s pretty much calling in sick to work.
For all the people with Demarco Murray on their fantasy team, the good news is that he returned to practice on Wednesday. Only three days after he sustained the injury and two days after he had surgery to fix it, Murray was back on the football field. He was pictured wearing a heavily padded glove on that hurt left hand.
How is this quick turnaround possible? Well, let’s take a look at Murray’s injury and functional needs in more detail. First, remember that he injured his left hand. A running back’s main job is to carry the football in either hand or both hands and sprint down the field while dodging guys who are trying to body slam them into the turf. Thankfully, Murray’s injury is on his non-dominant side so he should be quite comfortable carrying the ball with only his right hand. The bigger issue might be trying to break tackles as he usually throws a good old fashioned stiff arm with his left hand to stop defensive players from taking him down.Additionally, it turns out that your fourth finger is actually the least useful of all the fingers! As Anne Robinson, beloved reality TV show host, once said, “You are the weakest link!” The majority of the power in our hand comes from our thumb, second (pointer) finger, and third (middle) finger. And our fifth (pinky) finger is important for keeping a closed grip on objects. So today’s valuable life lesson is: if you were put in a tough situation where you had to lose one finger to save Rudolph from being picked on by the other reindeer, choose to sacrifice your ring finger! In short, a fractured fourth metacarpal shouldn’t affect Murray’s grip on the football too much. Now, if he broke his thumb or second finger, the case very would be different!
And for good measure, Murray’s medical staff will create a customized hand splint for him. The splint is designed to provide protection to the broken bone while allowing the hand as much function as possible. So when Murray is called upon to block an opposing player, the splint should give him enough support to be able to use his hands to push back a 250-pound raging human being.
These are the reasons why most (including Murray and the Dallas Cowboys) are optimistic about his chances of playing on Sunday. The Cowboys will probably point to current Green Bay Packers running back, Eddie Lacy, who also fractured his fourth metacarpal while playing college football in 2012. Lacy noted that he was splinted at practice but then wore his normal glove with some extra padding for his next game. He didn’t miss a single snap and went score one rushing and one receiving touchdown in the BCS National Championship game.
I’ve been a DeMarco Murray since… This season! So I’m hoping he’s good to go. With 2 games left in the season, the Cowboys are going to need Murray to kick some butt to help them secure a playoff spot. So, Demarco (yes, we are officially on first name basis), rest up and practice chest bumping because no high fives or fist pounding allowed!
– Chris (5-10, what a sad, sad record)