Ronald started playing basketball in the second grade because most of his friends joined the team. While Ronald says he wasn’t very good when he started, he didn’t have trouble for too long, as he earned a spot as point guard for Butler University’s basketball team.
While Ronald was excelling at his sport, he was playing in pain. Ronald started experiencing shin splints at the high school level, which continued to be bothersome while at Butler.
“Basketball was something I did every day, so experiencing that pain every day was difficult,” he said. “Running hurt. Jumping hurt. But it hurt more the day after.”
The diagnosis: Stress fractures
Ronald continued to play through the pain and treated his shin splints with activity restrictions, bracing and orthotics. When the pain didn’t get better, he thought it was time to see if his condition was more serious than shin splints. Ronald went to OrthoIndy to meet with Dr. David Brokaw, orthopedic trauma and foot/ankle surgeon. Ronald’s suspicions were accurate. An MRI determined it was more serious than shin splints; he had stress fractures in his left and right tibias.
“Part of me was a little nervous cause there was one crack in my left shin that had almost split my tibia in half,” said Ronald.
One of the most common sports-related injuries, a stress fracture is an overuse injury. When muscles become fatigued from overuse, it’s unable to absorb added shock, which eventually transfers the overload of stress to the bone, causing a tiny crack. Increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too rapidly typically causes a sports-related stress fracture.
According to Dr. Brokaw, “Stress fractures are common in elite athletes, such as basketball players, runners, and gymnasts. Basketball players are no more prone to this type of stress fracture than other athletes, but these are the type of athletes that can get it.”
Surgery was needed to correct his condition, which Ronald decided to schedule during the off season. He was nervous about surgery, but was confident in OrthoIndy.
“You want to feel safe, you want to feel like you are going to be taken care of when you come into a place and you want to feel like you’re doing it with the right people. I felt comfortable and welcome at OrthoIndy,” said Ronald.
Dr. Brokaw performed an intramedullary nailing of Ronald’s left and right tibias. “The treatment involves surgically placing a titanium rod down the middle or the marrow cavity of the tibia and locking it with cross locking screws,” said Dr. Brokaw. “This stabilizes the stress fracture and allows it to heal, and then allows the patient to minimize the stress across the bone that is causing the fracture pain.”
With this type of procedure, recovery takes anywhere from six to eight weeks to allow the fracture to heal. “The timing of Ronald’s surgery was calculated to allow him to return prior to doing conditioning,” said Dr. Brokaw. “He was an ideal patient and his recovery was textbook, as you know, he did quite well.”
Ronald is thankful for the care he received at OrthoIndy. “I’m not sure that I would have made it the last two years of college without my surgery because my shins were in such bad shape.”
Because of his care, Ronald was able to compete in two NCAA championship games after his surgery. Dr. Brokaw was impressed with Ronald’s recovery and enjoyed working with him. “Ronald was a joy to work with,” he said. “He was very compliant and hard working at rehab. Before we fixed him, he could barely compete, and afterwards, he and his teammates brought Butler into the final four on two subsequent occasions. That is a miraculous recovery.”
Both Ronald’s sophomore and junior years were an experience he will never forget. “We went to the championship game both years and ended up losing,” he said, “but it was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
Today, Ronald is continuing his basketball career as the head coach for Brownsburg High School’s boy’s basketball team. “A lot of the things that I was taught, I’m getting the opportunity to teach to high school kids and I’m very thankful for that.”
Dr. Brokaw has no doubt that Ronald will succeed as a basketball coach. “I could tell through our interactions that he’d be a phenomenal basketball coach. He has a very long and successful career in front of him.”
The care Ronald received at OrthoIndy has allowed him to continue his collegiate basketball career and now coach high school students about the game he loves. He has two small scars, which remind him of his journey from high school to today.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Brokaw please call 317.917.4388 or learn more foot and ankle treatment at OrthoIndy.
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