Sports medicine

John Doherty: Alphabet soup a toxic brew

2013-01-14T18:30:00Z 2013-01-14T19:40:08Z John Doherty: Alphabet soup a toxic brewBy John Doherty Times Correspondent
January 14, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

ACL, CTE, HGH, LCL. These letters have dominated sports headlines already this year.

Two of the monograms have been affixed to Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin. He would have preferred to stick with RGIII.

Griffin limped into the first round of the NFL playoffs with a strained lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his right knee.

I don’t fault him for playing. I don’t necessarily blame the Redskins medical staff for allowing him back after the re-injury in the first half of the game, which they ultimately lost to the Seahawks. I didn't examine the knee. However, once he returned, RGIII was clearly not the guy who had steered his team to a 14-0 lead.

At that point, head coach Mike Shanahan should have switched to his team’s other rookie quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Shanahan, when asked, acted as if success without RGIII and with Cousins was impossible. But wasn’t that Cousins who started and won against the Browns in Week 15?

Leaving RGIII in the game ultimately led to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), despite a brace, and reconstructive surgery by team senior orthopaedic consultant Dr. James Andrews.

Whose position with the Redskins prompts my final question on this matter. Why is he a team doc?

He may be famous, but his clinics in Alabama and Florida are hundreds of miles from Washington, D.C. Part of being a team doctor, I thought, is residing in the same community.

No sports celebrity was better-known in his community than Junior Seau was in San Diego. Because he committed suicide with a gunshot to the chest, I assumed he wanted his brain studied. Even though he didn't leave a suicide note, his family assumed the same.

And the results of that study were released last week. No surprise that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was discovered. Since that announcement, multiple media outlets have highlighted the fact that CTE was found at Boston University in 33 of 34 brains belonging to deceased NFL retirees.

Keep in mind, though, that every one of those brains belonged to somebody already suspected of having CTE. Furthermore, even though retired NFLers have a higher rate of neurodegenerative disease than the general public, their overall health is significantly better and suicide rate is significantly lower.

Finally, no rate could be significantly lower than the Baseball Hall of Fame selection rate this year. No retired baseball players — particularly alleged steroid users, who became eligible this year — were chosen last week.

More than a little ironically, just a day after the steroid snub by the HOF voters, Major League Baseball and the players' union came to a final agreement on a protocol for testing for human growth hormone (HGH).

Given the “unwelcome” mat shown Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa by the HOF, those wanting to avoid a similar fate in the future shouldn't ever risk a positive test.

John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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