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Memorable sports injuries to major pro athletes

02/26/2010

Professional athletes are the idols of many men and women who watch with admiration as these individuals break boundaries and elevate the sport to a new level. Yet despite their successes, nearly every star athlete will suffer an injury at some point. Concentra has compiled five of the most famous sports injuries that (briefly or permanently) derailed a superstar athlete in their quest for greatness:

1. Tom Brady

The New England Patriots quarterback's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was torn during the first game of the 2008 NFL season when he was struck on the knee by Kansas City Chiefs defender Bernard Pollard, effectively taking him out of the season just as it began.

2. Tiger Woods

The golfer originally ruptured his ACL while jogging in 2007, but it wasn't until the U.S. Open in 2008 that the condition sidelined him for the rest of the season, requiring surgery and a long recovery.

3. Lance Armstrong

The cyclist and cancer survivor broke his collarbone, also known as the clavicle, when he and several other riders fell during the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon stage race in Spain on March 23, 2009.

"The collarbone is one of the most commonly broken bones," says Amy Khan, M.D., Concentra's National Medical Director of Wellness and TotalCare. "Young men ages 13 to 20 break it most often, and younger children have greater chances of a broken collarbone during play. Luckily, for non-pro athletes a broken collarbone usually heals on its own, and surgery is rarely needed."

4. Drew Brees

In the last game of the 2005 season against the Denver Broncos, the then-San Diego Charger injured his shoulder when Denver tackle Gerard Warren hit Brees while he was on the ground, a hard hit that caused the injury.

5. Joe Theismann

In 1985, the Washington Redskins quarterback suffered what is arguably the most devastating sport injury of all time, when his right leg was broken in a compound fracture, breaking both the tibia and the fibula, and ending his football career at age 36.

"It usually takes quite a bit of force to break the bones of the leg," adds Dr. Khan. "In the case of Joe Theismann, the break was so severe it caused a rush of endorphins and he felt no significant pain. For most people a broken bone causes severe pain, and requires immediate medical attention. Many simple fractures can be repaired without the use of rods, pins, or surgery."

Broken bones and torn ligaments may be part of professional sports, but for most athletes these injuries can be prevented. A primary way to prevent sports injuries is to increase muscle strength, which aids an athlete's performance and offers protection against injuries. For example, Concentra's physical therapists use specific exercises to guide patients in maintaining balance between quad and hamstring muscles, helping to prevent tears in the ACL. Proper exercises can also increase the strength of the shoulder's rotator cuff to protect against dislocations and other shoulder injuries. Stretching before and after a workout also helps to loosen tension in muscles, and prevents strains and injuries.

For more ways to prevent injuries on and off the field, Concentra offers a free Sports Injury Prevention handbook. Used by athletes, coaches, and sports teams across the country, this handbook offers helpful prevention tips and experienced medical advice from Concentra physicians. Yet, no matter how prepared an athlete may be, accidents will happen. When they do, Concentra Urgent Care has more than 300 locations across the nation, able to treat most sports injuries quickly and completely. With experienced medical providers and advanced services, Concentra helps even the most amateur athletes get back in the game.