Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews has performed numerous Tommy John surgeries on the elbows of baseball players. Dr. Kevin Wilk, his longtime physical therapist colleague, has overseen the rehabilitation of many of these athletes following the procedure.
And after witnessing an increasing number of throwers seeking Tommy John surgery at progressively younger ages, Andrews and Wilk are trying to stem the tide of these devastating injuries at the youth level by teaming up to develop an iOS application designed to educate players, parents and coaches on how to prevent throwing injuries.
The app, Throw Like a Pro, will be released in the coming weeks. When available, it will feature four main elements, all centered around scientific data and input from Andrews and Wilk.
One section includes recommendations for pitchers from the American Sports Medicine Institute, such as avoiding throwing to the target of a radar gun and instead focusing on throwing with proper mechanics.
The app also includes a preseason preparation guide and pregame warm-up routine, including video instruction of various throwing exercises from Wilk. In addition to recommending specific exercises, Wilk offers tips to avoid common mistakes.
Perhaps one of the most practical sections of the app is the pitch counter and rest calculator. The pitch counter can be used to track how many pitches are thrown during a game and throughout the season.
Based on the player's age, Throw Like a Pro creates specific guidelines with regards to numbers of pitches. The rest calculator outlines appropriate rest prior to resuming pitching.
Wilk said the goal of the app is to reduce shoulder and elbow injuries in youth baseball players while simultaneously improving performance.
"Hopefully this will help them to play at peak performance without injury," Wilk said, "so they can pursue their baseball aspirations in a healthy manner."
Andrews envisions the app as a means of broadly educating players along with their families and coaches to help prevent overuse injuries in young throwers.
"I'm really excited," Andrews said. "For the first time, kids and parents everywhere will have access to the information and routines that we hope will put an end to this epidemic."