Rockne Brubaker, the reigning two-time U.S. pairs champion with partner Keauna McLaughlin, underwent surgery April 3 at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colo., for two sports hernias.
“We wanted to have the surgery right after Worlds so I could heal since next season is so important,” Brubaker said. “We would have liked to have gone (to the World Team Trophy), but I would have rather gotten this out of the way and been prepared for next season.”
The injuries prevented McLaughlin and Brubaker from competing at the first-ever ISU World Team Trophy, April 16-19 in Tokyo.
Brubaker originally noticed the injury, which involves tears in the muscles of the lower abdomen that cause severe pain in the lower abdomen or groin, in the fall of 2008.
“Sometimes there were days I had to tone it down in training or couldn’t do as much because of it, but it didn’t affect my competition,” he said.
Brubaker and McLaughlin won the silver medal at 2008 Skate America and the bronze at 2008 Skate Canada, and they captured their second consecutive U.S. championship in January.
“The injury was not severe but bothersome to Rockne’s performance,” said Dr. John Reasoner, the medical director of performance services at the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., who treated Brubaker throughout his injury. “He had the ability to work though it during competitions, which is pretty amazing because it can be a very annoying and debilitating injury for individuals who perform repeated lifting.
"He should recover and return to his high levels of performance without any complications.”
Recovery time for Brubaker’s surgery is four to six weeks, and he expects to begin training again around May 1.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, "a hernia is an abnormal protrusion from one part of the body into another. For example, one of the most common types -- an inguinal hernia -- occurs when soft tissue (usually, part of the intestine) bulges through a weak point or opening in the muscle of the lower abdomen.
"With a sports hernia, however, there is usually no bulge. Occurring in the same general area, the groin ... a sports hernia is a tear, strain, or weakness in one of the three muscles or the fascia ("gristle" that attaches muscle to bone) of the abdominal wall."
The site indicates that sports hernias are thought to result of extreme, forceful and repeated twisting-and-turning movements.
The symptoms of a sports hernia are include sharp pain or discomfort in the groin or lower abdomen, especially when a person exerts himself, for example, by lifting, running or even coughing. "Unlike an inguinal hernia, however, a sports hernia is difficult to diagnose, as it presents no obvious external signs," th esite said. "It is also hard to spot one through imaging technologies such as MRI, CT or ultrasound because a small, subtle and nearly invisible muscle injury is the usual culprit."