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Sunday, April 20
Injured drivers ready to roll
By Robin Miller
Special to ESPN.com
Usually, Dr. Terry Trammell and Dr. Kevin Scheid find themselves scrambling to get drivers injured in the Indianapolis 500 back behind the wheel sometime in June or July.
But, just two weeks before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens for practice, these respected orthopedic surgeons from Indianapolis are busy trying to help Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon heal in time to make the May 25 classic.
Both were injured in the worst accident of the IRL's crash-fest in Motegi, Japan on April 12 and their status remains suspect -- at least for the opening round of qualifying May 10-11.
"Certainly I think Tony will be OK by race day but it's a matter of getting them in the show," said Trammell, who has been putting broken racers back together since 1981. "It's all a question of timing and tolerance. If everything was moved back a week, we'd be golden."
Trammell operated on Kanaan's broken left arm Tuesday while Scheid and hand special Dr. Tim Dickey performed surgery on Dixon's right hand and wrist three days later.
"Tony had a plate in his arm from another accident and his new break was just beyond the old one so we had to put in a new plate," said Trammell, who had Kanaan stay at his home and rehab from his 2000. "His arm is pretty sore but at least he's had experience in rehabbing this thing."
Dixon, who made contact with Kanaan and sent them smashing into the third-turn wall as they battled for the lead, opted for screws and plates rather than the 10 weeks required to have the seven small fractures heal on their own.
"They put a screw on the bone the wrist rolls on and then screws or plates on all the other broken bones to make it stronger," said Dixon, who captured the IRL season-opener and has consistently been the fastest driver along with Kanaan. "It's a little sore but the doctors think I'll probably be able to do some laps in that first week of practice so that's encouraging."
Trammell also got a visit from Dario Franchitti last week and promptly ruled him out of action for three months. The 29-year-old Scotsman, who is teammates with Kanaan and Michael Andretti, suffered a fractured vertebrae earlier this month while riding his motorcycle
Franchitti didn't run Motegi but he also didn't realize how serious things were until he came to Indianapolis.
"I about fell over when I saw his X-rays," said Trammell. "He wasn't given the correct diagnosis and it was much worse than he thought. Another hit and he'd have been in deep trouble.
"His injury is similiar to Buddy Lazier, Anthony Lazarro and Jason Priestly and he needs three months to properly heal."
Franchitti's motorcycle accident was April 4 and if he returns July 4 he'll have missed three races (Texas, Colorado Springs, Richmond, Va.) in addition to Indy.
The other member of this talented and high paid IRL "MASH" Unit, Gil de Ferran, appears to be making good progress from his broken neck, broken back and concussion incurred last March at Phoenix.
"Gil had some dizziness related to an inner ear problem likely the result of a concussion. He underwent a series of manuevers at Mayo Clinic which should resolve the problem," said Dr. Steve Olvey, CART's medical director who has been treating de Ferran since they both live in the Miami area.
"It could have been from the accident or the result of frequent flying but Gil has not been dizzy since then so we're hoping it's not from a brain injury but rather an inner ear problem."
Olvey, who along with Trammell was instrumental in CART taking the lead in driver safety, said de Ferran must pass a computerized test mandated by CART and the IRL before being cleared to drive.
"The test is done on a laptop computer and measures visual motor responses, short-term memory and how you anticipate timing," said Olvey, whose IRL counter-part, Dr. Hank Bock, will administer the test. "Hank will repeat the impact test and, if it's still abnormal, Gil won't be able to go.
"But I saw him today and I think he's going to be fine and able to compete in May."
Although not officially reported, Jaques Lazier also suffered a mild concussion as a result of his accident in Japan but he's expected to be ready when IMS opens its doors May 4. He was at the Speedway Saturday watching Vitor Meira test the Menard's Dallara/Chevy.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories