Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury makes Simpson’s head athletic trainer take a second look

by Aaron Young

By now, either by choice or accident, many sports fans have probably seen or heard about one of the most gruesome leg injuries endured. The injury that happened to sophomore Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware.

“When I saw the video, it was weird,” Jason Uhlenhake, head athletic trainer, said. “When he landed, basically the weight of the bone just couldn’t withstand the weight and it just sheared off, causing it to break.”

The injury occurred while the Louisville Cardinal basketball team were playing the Duke University Blue Devils in the Elite 8 of the NCAA National Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind. on Easter Sunday, Mar. 31.

With 6:33 left in the first half, Louisville was up 21-17 with Duke bringing the ball down the court. Ware was on the opposite side of the lane when the ball was passed to Duke junior guard Tyler Thornton behind the arc and right in front of the Cardinal bench. Ware bolted over to Thornton and jumped as high as he could, trying to block his shot attempt.

The shot was good, making the score 21-20, but Ware’s leg, not so good.

When Ware had landed, his right leg had snapped right in two. More notably enough, the bone had pierced right through his skin, sticking out just enough for players, coaches, fans in attendance and viewers at home watching on TV to see.

Uhlenhake described that the front part of the bone slipped down and when Ware landed it forced his foot to slip back, which is the cause of the bone pushing through the skin. He has also done some research on the injury itself and why it happened, noting that experts had theorized that Ware had some sort of a small stress fracture at some point or had something in there that had weakened the bone itself.

Louisville ended up winning the game 85-63, but Ware’s injury had the athletes shaken up and boomed on social media sites, catching a lot of people’s attention, like Uhlenhake’s.

Typically, this type of injury should not happen, according to Uhlenhake.

“That bone should withstand more stress than what he put on that play, but it’s just one of those freak things,” Uhlenhake said. “You could sit there and watch the video 100 times and maybe not pick out why it occurred. This play happens a million times a day with other basketball players across the country, and nothing happens.”

Uhlenhake added that there may be other underlying factors behind Ware’s injury, but as Ware had already undergone a two-hour surgery that same night, it sounds like that may not be the case.

Regardless, accidents like Ware’s are absolutely impossible to prevent.

“With freak injuries, there’s really nothing you can do. They‘re going to happen,” Uhlenhake said. “Broken bones, dislocations; there’s just nothing you can really do to prevent them just based upon how a play occurs.

Nonetheless, regardless of underlying factors or not for any athlete, communication between athlete-to-coaches and athlete-to-medical staff is extremely important.

“It’s important that you get things checked out with anything,” Uhlenhake said. “We had a football player this fall that had some shoulder pain and it turned out that he had a benign cyst that was growing on his humerus bone. It can be weird stuff that you can find from little pains.”

However, Uhlenhake added that almost 95 percent of the time, the results probably won’t be anything real serious, but can lead to other things such as muscle imbalances.

“It’s just one of those things where you can overuse certain injuries or an injury that is occurring that may cause something else to occur,” Uhlenhake said. “Even small minor things need to be checked out, looked at and gone over.”

What Uhlenhake found interesting though when watching the video of the injury was the reaction of his teammates as well as the medical staff.

“Every one of Ware’s teammates on the bench just almost ran away,” Uhlenhake said. “It was kind of funny though that the first person running to him was Louisville’s athletic trainer. He was immediately going towards him as he saw it happen while everybody else was kind of moving away.”

He added that the medical professionals took care of what they needed to and believes Ware will have successful rehab moving forward.