In Sync: Moline Brothers and Musicians Cope with Casts, Concerts and Chaos

Sapp Bros Success Story Feature

A house with two teen-aged musicians is busy enough. But when two brothers are wearing casts at the same time (one for an injured wrist and the other, a broken arm) then you experience what Moline mother, Michele Sapp, calls “comedy and controlled chaos.”

Conor Sapp, 16, is a junior at Moline High School who not only plays the bass for orchestra, but also enjoys new challenges. “I was really looking forward to my first national Boy Scout Jamboree,” he recalls. “They had all these cool events we could try, so I thought skateboarding would be fun! I fell about half way through my first run and injured my right wrist.” As he was among boy scouts, everyone was prepared: Conor received immediate first aid and a splint and went whitewater rafting the next day.

Dr. Thomas VonGillern, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. Thomas VonGillern, ORA Orthopedics

However, when Conor returned home, ORA Orthopedics’ hand surgeon, Dr. Thomas VonGillern, said Conor had suffered torn ligaments that required surgery. “I performed a wrist arthroscopy to repair his torn ligaments in order to give him the best chance of playing the bass again.”  Adds Conor, “I like the double bass. It makes a big sound, but it also takes really strong hands. The width of the strings is so much larger, so it takes a lot of force to play it well.  I had a cast for about eight weeks and a splint for another month, but I can play it now without any pain or problems.”

While Conor was recovering from his treatment at ORA Orthopedics, his mother Michele Sapp, was attending a football game when her younger son, Ian, broke his arm. “I had just been to ORA with Conor earlier the same day, and all I thought was ‘AGAIN?’”  For her 14-year Moline middle school student and trumpet player, the injury sent him to the ER. “I had just started jazz band and broke my wrist on the same day,” Ian adds. “I went to make a tackle, when an offensive lineman came and stepped on my arm.”

Dr. J.C. Clark, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. J.C. Clark, ORA Orthopedics

ORA Orthopedics’ surgeon, Dr. J.C. Clark, treated Ian and says his biggest concern about Ian’s wrist fracture was that it occurred through the growth plate of his right radius.  “Fractures that affect the growth plate are tricky, because if the break doesn’t heal properly, the growth plates can prematurely close off and his arm could quit growing — the result can mean multiple surgeries to get his arm to lengthen properly. In Ian’s case, I was able to adequately realign the broken bones with careful reduction maneuvers and a splint.”  Weekly follow-up X-rays showed that the splint was holding the bones in position, keeping the growth plate open.

As the area’s leading sports medicine orthopedic practice, Dr. Clark says ORA treats a lot of broken bones in young athletes. “I always tell parents, that if there’s swelling, deformity or if the pain lasts more than 24-48 hours, get an X-ray and a professional exam.  As a parent of three active boys who also experience their share of bumps and bruises, it can be difficult to know if an injury is serious.  My rule of thumb: if they are still complaining of pain after a day or two, it’s better to see an orthopedic physician.” Dr. VonGillern agrees, adding that in cases like Conor’s wrist, one cannot always determine the extent of damage, and treatment can require specialized training to restore both movement and function.

As for the Sapp brothers, life has settled back into a routine, now that their casts are off and they’ve resumed their favorite sports and musical activities.  “There for a while, it was pretty chaotic coordinating showers, tying their shoes, and shuttling them to appointments!” says Michele Sapp.  “But, they have been great sports about the craziness, and I was grateful for the care they received.  ORA was very attentive and very efficient. The boys were comfortable and we weren’t worried.”