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Pivotal move.

Ouch! In February, Francesco Totti was badly hurt in a bone-crushing play during a soccer match in Italy. Totti twisted his ankle so severely that he had to be rushed to the hospital.

Totti was injured eleven minutes into the game, when an opponent tried to kick the ball out of his reach. Totti fell to the ground. As he crashed, his foot pivoted outward and he slammed down on it. Asked to comment on the injury, Diane Dahm, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Minnesota, explained: "The position his foot was in when the force was applied likely caused serious injury."

Totti left the field on a stretcher. At the hospital, surgeons found that Totti had fractured his fibula, or the smaller lower-leg bone, in his left leg. Injuries like Totti's can also tear the ligaments that hold together the fibula and the tibia, or the bone that extends from the knee to the ankle. Without the support from these fibrous straps, it is often impossible to put weight on the leg.

Realizing the severity of Totti's leg injury, doctors rushed him to the operating room. There, surgeons realigned his fibula. To stabilize the broken bone, the doctors screwed a metal plate on top of the fibula.

Three days after the operation, Totti left the clinic on crutches. He is hoping that he will be sidelined just a short time so he doesn't miss the World Cup, which begins in June. But letting his leg heal completely is critical to being in tip-top shape when he does hit the field again.

According to Dahm, it can take up to eight weeks for a fracture like Totti's to heal. "Just because the fracture is healed doesn't mean an athlete can go right back to playing," she warns. Further rehabilitation is sometimes needed to strengthen the muscles around the lower leg and get the athlete ready for high-intensity sports.

"If an athlete goes back to playing before the bone is healed, he's at risk for more injury, which may prolong healing," says Dahm.
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Title Annotation:Francesco Totti injures his fibula
Author:Bryner, Jeanna
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:May 8, 2006
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