University of Louisville guard Kevin Ware is up and on crutches less than 24 hours after his horrific fall

WABC-TV News—New York—April 1, 2013

During Sunday night's NCAA basketball game, Kevin's right lower leg snapped beneath him, completely breaking both bones and leaving a portion of the tibia or shin bone protruding through skin.

Doctors operated immediately, resetting the bones and inserting a rod into the tibia.

"He's in good spirits, the surgery went well," said Rich Pitino, Louisville's coach, "They operated right away on him, he's not in any pain."

But how did that happen?

"Clearly you can see the bone," said Dr. David Helfet, the chief of orthopedic trauma surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Eyewitness News showed the unedited video and close up photos to Dr. Helfet.

He was not involved in Kevin's care, but treats similar injuries every day.

"It'd be almost impossible for that to happen in the normal leg," Dr. Helfet said.

He believes there may have had an underlying weakening or hairline fracture of the bone.

"The pounding athlete like this I'd imagine he had some kind of underlying stress fracture and he fractured through the stress fracture," Dr. Helfet said.

Coach Pitino denies any underlying problems, saying the injury is thought to be a result of the way Kevin landed.

Dr. Helfet says as bad as the injury may seem, a clean break of the bones is easier to recover from than a complex injury of the knee and the surrounding ligaments.

"Especially a jumping pivoting twisting athlete, I would rather take a tibia fracture that we can heal and recover completely from," Dr. Helfet said, "The prognosis for him to recover from this and get back to being a competitive basketball player is very, very good."

The two big concerns for now are to make sure that area doesn't get infected, because an infection of the bone can be extremely serious, and to make sure the arteries and veins weren't too damaged, so there's good blood supply to the bones so they heal.

If all goes well, the coach says he's expected to go home Tuesday.


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