SCALPEL, KRAZY GLUE, GORE-TEX,...
The Food and Drug Administration has just awarded a grant to BioNexus Inc. of Raleigh, N.C., to develop butyl cyanoacrylates—substances used in super glues—for use in surgical experiments at Duke University. The adhesives have been used in the past for on-the-spot treatment of open wounds and may someday replace stitching in delicate eye surgery. The Pentagon is interested and, for obvious reasons, the sports world should be, too. The athletic trainer's kit of the '90s may well include a supply of Krazy Glue.
Another new FDA-approved procedure should benefit athletes: the use of synthetic fibers to replace damaged knee ligaments in "salvage operation" surgery. Many of these artificial ligaments are made of Gore-Tex, the same tough material used in ski clothing. The procedure has been done experimentally for several years, and approximately 1,000 Americans are walking around—or competing—on partially synthetic knees. "We don't know how many more would be eligible for the salvage operation," says Dr. Nirmal Mishra, who heads the FDA's Restorative Device Branch. "But in my estimation the number is sizable." After five more years of analysis, synthetic-ligament surgery could become standard operating procedure. Tests already indicate that, in some cases, athletes who might have been sidelined for a year of rehabilitation after conventional surgery should be able to return to the field in as few as six to eight weeks. Mishra says studies show an 85% success rate during the first two years after synthetic-ligament implantation. Former World Cup skier Cindy Nelson, who had a Gore-Tex ligament installed in her damaged right knee 2� years ago, says, "I was back on the slopes in four months and I'm still 100 percent, doing everything I did before. I'd like to have one in my other knee. I think it's a real gem for medicine."
ANYBODY OUT THERE LOSE A GOLF BALL?
Last month we told you about Wally Edwards, a recently deceased Englishman who left a strange fortune of 6,000 golf balls stashed throughout his estate (SCORECARD, Nov. 3). His was a substantial hoard, but it pales in quantity and quality next to the collection of Ted Myers, a retired manufacturers representative living in Marietta, Ga. Myers has 7,000 golf balls sitting around in his house; more remarkably, they are all categorized, and no two of them are alike. Imprinted on the balls are the names of nearly 600 country clubs, and there are hundreds of balls advertising food and automobile companies. Myers figures he has looked at 50,000 golf balls in choosing ones worth adding to his extraordinary collection.
Your first question was our first question: Why? "I had heart surgery three years ago and I'm supposed to take a walk regularly," Myers explained with the patience of a man who would, well, collect 7,000 golf balls. "And I live on a golf course, so I just started picking the stupid things up. I figured I'd collect about 200, and it'd take three or four years. But you know how these things go." Myers now regularly trades with other golf ball addicts in the area and recently made a trip to Florida to swap 30 dozen of his duplicates. He also plays the game. "I tee it up twice a week," he said. "I haven't bought a ball in years."