Just why is the invention of the wheel such a big deal? Perhaps its not.
By itself, the wheel is useless; the true hero is the inventor of the axle. Axles without wheels or wheels without axles? I guess reinventing is a metaphor for duplicated, wasted effort or ignorance of previous invention. I once stumbled upon something previously invented.
Skiing at less than 10 mph, I fell, and, without warning and unceremoniously, jammed my right, dominant thumb. I had immediate pain at the base of the thumb on the side toward the index finger in medicalese, the ulnar side of the thumb metacarpophalangeal, or MCP, joint. Like the knees, fingers have collateral ligaments at the sides of their joints, which are hinge joints.
Ground zero for skiers thumb is the ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, about 6 millimeters wide, 12 millimeters long and torn with a static force of only 30 to 40 pounds nothing compared with the weight of a skier falling at speed.
Skiers thumb, which comprises about 5 to 10 percent of skier injuries, is less common in snowboarders. The difference is poles, which can act as levers against thumbs. Strapless poles havent been the answer, nor have gloves designed to prevent jamming the thumb. The suggestion to ditch ones poles in a fall is laughable falls happen too fast. Pain and swelling over the UCL may indicate a sprain, tear or avulsion fracture (if the UCL is pulled off the bone). The more severe the injury, the weaker ones grip.
It is simple to test by moving the thumb away from the index finger. If the ligament is not completely torn, the thumb stops at a given point. A comparison with the other thumb may indicate laxity (looseness) of the UCL. However, this examination is usually painful and may aggravate the injury X-rays should be obtained first. Ultrasound also may be valuable. Prompt diagnosis is essential because early surgical repairs produce better results for tears and avulsion fractures.
I perceived some laxity and, X-rays negative, I saw an orthopedist. Concurring, he had his cast technician apply a splint. The splint, from the tip of my thumb to mid-forearm, was short-lived unable to get a sterile glove on, to hold an instrument or a pen, I was disabled.
The next step was a nurse-applied fiberglass cast, known as a thumb spica. (Definition of spica from the Oxford English Dictionary: Comes from Latin spica, ear of grain. A form of bandage applied in overlapping opposite spirals to immobilize a digit or limb, the pattern suggesting an ear of wheat.) The thumb spica resembles a glove extended out to the thumb joint but does not include the four fingers. Now I could work.
Many folks know about cast padding a problem for showering or swimming. Unacceptable. The next cast, no padding, was simply fiberglass over a latex glove, the latter ripped out after the cast set snug, bulletproof, waterproof. En route to a backcountry ski trip, the cast pinched my wrist a hacksaw blade from a hardware store provided a quick fix. I later learned similar casts were used by NHL players, known as mini-spica casts, easily fitting under gloves to keep them playing.
Id reinvented the wheel. Maybe the axle?
www.alanfraserhouston.com. Dr. Fraser Houston is a retired emergency room physician who worked at area hospitals after moving to Southwest Colorado from New Hampshire in 1990.