Tommy John surgery is a procedure to repair an injured elbow ligament. It is also known as UCL reconstruction surgery, which refers to the damaged ulnar collateral ligament. A surgeon performs the operation by taking a tendon from another part of the body to replace the injured UCL. The surgery became popular in the late 1970s and surgeons still practice it today. It is a common surgery for athletes, especially baseball players, because repetitive throwing motions often cause the injury.
The Tommy John surgery got its name from the first person to ever have it. Tommy John was a winning pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974 when he suffered a career-ending injury to his UCL. He opted to have the groundbreaking surgery orthopedist Dr. Jobe had invented but never performed on an athlete. Tommy John spent the 1975 season in recovery and came back in 1976 with what was considered a miraculous return. His record was 10-10, and he continued to win 164 games post-surgery.
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