Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Anatomy of a Broken Wrist Arm - No, Really
2006-04-21 09:11
by Derek Smart

There's been some questions in the comments about the exact nature of Lee's injury, so I've done a little poking around. Here's what I've found regard fractures of the distal radius (Distal, by the way, is apparently a reference to a geographical region of the radius bone, namely the end furthest from the body), culled from this site, which I was led to by a search on WebMD:

A distal radius fracture is one of the most common kinds of fractures (a break in a bone) that can happen to the wrist. It is most commonly caused by falling on an extended hand and usually occurs in children and older adults.

The radius is a bone in your forearm. The distal radius is the end of the forearm bone that is at the wrist. When a person falls on an outstretched hand, the hand suddenly becomes rigid, and the momentum from the fall will cause both a twisting force and a compressing force on your forearm. The kind of injury these forces are likely to cause depends on the age of the person who is injured. In children, and in older adults, such a fall is likely to result in a fracture of the radius.

That gives us an idea of the force involved in the collision with Furcal. If this is an injury usually suffered by falling oldsters with fragile bones and falling youngsters whose bones are still growing, I'd imagine there would have to be quite a bit of energy displaced when such an injury occurs to a grown, very healthy man. They say speed kills, and you have to figure in this instance, Furcal's speed was a contributor to the injury's severity.

In any case, here's some additional information from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website:

When someone falls on their outstretched hand, they sometimes get a "broken wrist." The bone that is usually broken is called the radius. It is the larger bone on the upper side of the photograph above [see link provided]. The end toward the wrist is called the distal end. The medical term for "broken bone" is fracture. Therefore, the medical term for the most common type of "broken wrist" is a distal radius fracture (that is, the larger forearm bone is broken near the wrist).

This kind of fracture is very common. In fact, the radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm. The break usually happens when you fall and land on your outstretched hands. It can also happen in a car accident, a bike accident, a skiing accident, and similar situations. Sometimes, the other forearm bone (the ulna) is also broken. When this happens, it is called a distal ulna fracture.

Again with the high impact, high force situations. That Lee's ulna was also involved gives us another data point about how violent the collision was. Semantically speaking, it's also notable that what's breaking here are technically bones in Lee's arm. I don't know if there's any difference beyond the semantics, but I'm just enough of a nerd to find the possibility interesting.

Anyway, that's what I've gleaned from cursory surfing. Anything to add, plug away in the comments.

2006-04-21 09:35:18
1.   Bob Timmermann
Rafael Furcal isn't big, but he's certainly fast. I'm surprised he didn't end up injured as well.

I wonder if the collision would have happened even if Eyre decided to eat the ball. Furcal was down the line pretty fast.

2006-04-21 09:47:52
2.   Derek Smart
From what I saw, I don't think Lee would have been in a much different position had the ball not been thrown. He might have been more aware of his position relative to Furcal and been able to do something about it, not having to track the ball for a moment, but from what I recall, the replays made me think he was in that position before Eyre even got the ball in the air.
2006-04-21 10:40:43
3.   Andy Rutledge
"Rafael Furcal isn't big, but he's certainly fast."

As a friend of mine says about collisions: It's the v-squared that gets ya!


2006-04-21 11:55:33
4.   Doug
Having forced myself to watch the replay over and over while ignoring the sour taste in the back of my throat, I'm quite confident that had Eyre not thrown the ball away, all would be kosher in Cubtown (well, as close to kosher as we get anyway). When Lee saw the ball sailing over his head, he shifted his body to his left and started making that way to chase the ball down. Unfortunately, this placed his entire body in the direct path of Furcal. Since this happened so quickly and there was about a second before collision, Lee did what any other human does seeing an impending collision: he put his hands up to cushion the blow. Had he not put his arms out, who knows what would have happened. Broken ribs? A collision of Carlos Beltran / Mike Cameron proportions? Furcal is 100% fine because Lee stuck his arms out absorbing the force of the blow. Furcal might have a bruise on his abdomen from the pressure, but that's probably it.

One thing I'm positive of is that had the ball not been thrown at all, Lee would have just been standing at first base with no play as happens on many a good bunt single.

2006-04-21 14:25:06
5.   Cliff Corcoran
My ire for Eyre rises higher and higher.
2006-04-21 15:28:04
6.   shadowbox
I too watched the replay over and over. It does appear that Lee makes a late break for the ball causing the collision. However, I think Furcal is also to blame. If he was running in the proper base path the collision wouldn't have happened, or at least wouldn't have been straight on. But you never know, when Mabry barely clipped Casey last week he broke 2 vertebrae and he's out for 6-8 weeks.
2006-04-21 16:45:28
7.   ABC
Come on, guys. Blaming Eyre for the injury? Disliking him more because of it? Eyre also did what any of us expect a player to do...try their hardest to make the plays. This one didn't work out. It was a bad flip and as a result, the Cubs are without their best player. Too many times this year we'll see ill-advised throws go for merely an extra base. In fact, it's highly unlikely we'll ever see another ill-advised throw lead to D.Lee being on the DL. That's how the game goes. As Dusty so often says, "it is what it is."
2006-04-21 19:39:10
8.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
3 v^2 isn't the only factor in the equation. Sure, the term counts more since it is squared, and the mass isn't. ( Plus, wouldn't you think that a 195 pounder (and he looks a little bulkier than that to me) would hurt?

7 "It is what it is" is a cop-out. A contractor used it once with me when he failed to get authorization for extra work, and then charged me for it. Not saying it is or isn't Eyre's fault, I'm just saying the better way to put it is that you cannot do anything about the fact the Lee's injured.

2006-04-22 09:38:35
9.   Doug
I don't blame Eyre or Furcal for the injury. I was just analyzing the play and how it went down. Eyre's obviously a competitive player and was trying to make a play. It was an ill advised attempt to be sure, but it's hardly the last one we'll see this year.

I also don't blame Furcal for several reasons:
1) It happened too fast for him to react.
2) Honestly, who was more likely to get hurt in that situation?
3) He may have been running on the inside of the base path (like any good bunter would do when bunting down the first base path in order to make the throw more difficult), but he crossed first base directly over the bag.

It was a freak accident, IMO.

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