NEBOJSA POPOVIC, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A GOLDEN LIFE WITHOUT HAND SURGERY
– Interview by Jonny K Andersson M.D., Ph.D., Sweden
In this interview, I present a former gold medal winner in the Olympic games 1972, professor Nebojsa Popovic. We discuss his injuries during his active handball career. No surgery was performed, he could still continue playing on the highest level. We also discuss the end result of his injuries, with differnt types of deformities and secondary posttraumatic degenarative arthritis, although managing very good in his daily living. Sometimes conservative treatment or no treatment at all is the best choice among athletes.
Nebojsa, can you tell us about your injuries during your active career as a handball player?
Wrist and especially hand injuries are very frequent among handball players.
Ball against finger impact are so characteristic in young players as a dominant injury mechanism. Closed dorsal dislocation of 5 th finger middle joint is the price you must pay to learn the appropriate catching technique of the ball in this sport. Later in the career, the dominant mechanism is collision between the hand and opponent, i.e. when blocking the ball. In professional players more serious hand injuries result of non-control falling mechanism on the floor as result of severe contact.
Did you suffer from any lay-off time? Can you describe your symptoms? Any diagnostics performed in the acute post traumatic phase?
In my time all hand injuries in handball players where underestimated and orthopaedic hand surgeon where extremely rare. Treatment consisted of some rudimentary tapes done by ourselves and learning a modified technique of catching the ball during the painful period of time.
I have never been absent for one single match during my 20 years of handball career, because of any hand injuries. That doesn’t mean that I did not suffer multiple times from these injuries, but I could not stop playing and nobody explained to me exactly what kind of injuries those were and what the consequences could be in the future.
What is the current situation?
To be honest, I did not have any special problems in my career as orthopaedic surgeon. I had some problems before, when we were obliged utilizing a pen to write and sometimes after a long period of writing, I felt pain, but today as everybody in the society is using “screen touching techniques”, I have no problems.
Sometimes surgery is not the best choice of treatment, especially among athletes. As my former professor in Sweden once told me: “Jonny, during the first period of your career as a hand surgeon you put in prostheses and during the second part, you take them out.
Question to the readers of this issue of Aspetar Journal:
How many surgeries do you think this non-athletic lady have had?
Nebojsa Popovic M.D., Ph.D.
Jonny K Andersson M.D., Ph.D.