Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa Injury Discussion

The lasting memory of the College Football National Championship Game goes as following….

And for Head Coach Nick Saban, it’s in the past and it’s time to move on. And that did happen on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The Alabama Crimson Tide opened up spring practices. All eyes on the quarterback position between two-year starter Jalen Hurts and national championship hero Tua Tagovailoa. Well it didn’t last long because Tua injured his thumb in spring practices.

Well not that the quarterback battle was going to be decided in spring practice unless one of them fell flat on their face, but it is unfortunate because he is going to miss time and he is going to get it evaluated.

Anatomy Review:

We’re back to the thumb. We recently had another thumb injury, Klay Thompson, who suffered a fractured thumb. Tua’s injury has not been made public but it is known that it is a thumb injury.

The thumb is a unique joint because it allows for all different kinds of range of motion, similar to the hip or the shoulder. The challenge with hand injuries for a quarterback is the ability to grip the ball. Since gripping is a combination of thumb flexion and thumb adduction.

His injury could be a simple tendon strain most likely a thumb flexor tendon comparatively to an extensor tendon. Thumb hyperextension injuries are much more common (thumb getting hyperextended being caught in a jersey, trying to catch a ball, hitting a helmet) than thumb hyperflexion injuries. Hyperextension injuries would damage flexor tendons while hyperflexion injuries would damage extensor tendons.

If we’re thinking of what joint could be damaged we’re going to examine the articulation between the trapezium and the first metacarpal bone. We’re thinking joint if there was a potential fracture of one of the bones or dislocation of the thumb joint.

X-rays will rule out dislocation or fracture. MRI will rule out ligamentous or tendon tear or rupture.

What I Could Do:

Manual work. While I wrote about Klay Thompson’s thumb injury recently, Tua will follow the same general guidelines and have some differences since he’s thumb is not fractured.

Tua’s treatment will follow similar suit but include strengthening muscles of the hand, wrist, and forearm. There are not many muscles of the wrist since many of the muscles originate at the forearm crossover the “wrist joint” and attach to different bones in the hand.

In terms of treatment we’re going to do a lot of manual work , via Active Release Technique, at the thumb, at the wrist, and at the forearm/elbow. Chiropractic adjustments can be used to adjust the thumb and adjust different bones in the wrist as well.

Strengthening work can fall into the categories of weight carries, stress ball squeezes, varied grips of pull-ups, chin-ups, and inverted rows. Exercises can also be regressed to do very simple things such as thumb-banded exercises or stress ball squeezes as well.

My Take:

While he may miss extended parts of spring practice, there’s currently nothing in the news that indicates it is anything severe along the lines of (but not limited too): fractured thumb or torn ligaments in his hand or wrist. It’s believed he’ll be back before spring practice ends (15 total practices followed by the Spring Game).

Since muscular tendon injuries can range from 1-2 weeks recovery, depending on severity, he may have a chance to return to spring practices and be a full participant instead of being on the sidelines in a brace.

I would guess right now he’s probably 50/50 to play in the spring game especially if the thumb injury is more severe than originally anticipated. But him practicing the latter half of spring practices may be vital to the quarterback challenge, with that said he may push the limits of treatment and rehabilitation to be back.


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