News / USA

Medical Advances Keep Runner on Track after Spinal Injury

Medical Advances Keep Runner on Track after Spinal Injuryi
X
October 20, 2013 10:25 AM
The National Institutes of Health says roughly 40 million people in the United States suffer from, or are at high risk for, osteoporosis, a condition that decreases bone mass and often results in fractures in the spine, hips, and wrists. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, while older women are more likely to develop the disease, it was a surprise to one man in the Chicago suburbs who had built a life on running and was at risk of being sidelined after his diagnosis.
The National Institutes of Health says roughly 40 million people in the United States suffer from, or are at high risk for, osteoporosis, a condition that decreases bone mass and often results in fractures in the spine, hips, and wrists.  While older women are more likely to develop the disease, it was a surprise to one man in the Chicago suburbs who had built a life on running and was at risk of being sidelined after his diagnosis.

Jon Macnider, or “Mac” to his friends, has been running since 1968. “Running is what keeps me sane, keeps me healthy and happy, and it’s what I enjoy doing," he said. "It’s something to start the day with.”

From a hobby to a career

What began as a hobby for Macnider turned into a career, first as a marathon runner, then teaching physical education at a suburban Chicago high school where he also coached a women’s running team.

“It’s been rewarding.  Actually, my coaching career has been much more rewarding than my running career,” he stated.

But during Macnider’s last year as coach, he ran right into a problem.

“We were on an eight-mile run, and I turned over my shoulder to encourage some girls to keep up, and it felt like someone shot me in the back,” he explained.

A visit to the doctor revealed it was not a gunshot, but a spinal injury caused by an unusual case of osteoporosis, or a thinning of Macnider’s bones. “I had a compression fracture of my T-7 vertebrae,” he said.

Bone thinning, nearly ends coaching

Macnider feared the injury meant the end of his running career. “We were the number one-ranked team in the state," he noted. "And my dream was to go out running with my girls and it wasn’t going to happen.”

Orthopedic spine surgeon Thomas McNally said in the past this might have sidelined Macnider. “What they would have done is treated him with brace treatment and medications, and it would have taken him a longer time to get back to his activity level,” he said.

But Dr. McNally had a different approach, suggesting Macnider undergo balloon kyphoplasty. It inserts a balloon into the spine near the site of the fracture. “You blow up the balloon, it makes a hole in the vertebral body, and then we fill with bone cement.  It acts like an internal cast,” he added.

Treatment, fast track to wellness

That internal cast has put the stride back in Macnider’s step.

“Had the surgery on a Friday, walked out of the hospital and told my wife it’s fixed.   I started running again on Monday,” he recalled.

Now, three years beyond the procedure, Macnider is preparing to do what he has done so well in the past, cross the marathon finish line one more time. “That’s the goal.  I’ve been taught to set goals.  That’s something I want to do, get to run a marathon with my kids," he said.

He hopes to complete that goal next year before he reaches another milestone… his 60th birthday.

Kane Farabaugh

Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs