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.
Kane Farabaugh
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.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More