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Anatomy of a Fracture: The Mechanics of Dylan Schellenberg’s Injury

We are big Baylor fans here in Texas, but our heart goes out to Dylan Schellenberg from Kansas State after watching him fracture his leg in Saturday’s game this past weekend.

To the untrained eye, it is really hard to see what happened.  However, being familiar with stress and loads as a surgeon, I recognized the unfortunate series of events which caused his fracture.  What makes it also a bit disheartening, is the fracture occurred by the actions of one of his team players, #22 (Dante Barnett).  Of course, the actions of this event was purely unintentional and no blame should be placed on Dante Barnett.

His fracture was the result of great forces sustained as both Dylan and Dante were on the 1 yard line trying to prevent Baylor from scoring.  In the fateful play, Dante was along the right defensive line and Dylan was on the left.  Both players darted out and inward to prevent the Baylor offense from scoring.  However, as Dante begins his tackle from the right, he whips his right leg directly into the lateral lower leg of Schellenberg’s as he is pivoting with all his force and weight to the right in the same direction.

When the fracture occurs, you see Dylan roll in the opposite direction and backward.

What is fascinating is that the play just before the fateful play that broke Dylan’s leg was almost identical.  However, the 2 players (Dylan and Dante) miss each other. The following series of photos will show the mechanics of this fracture on the following play.

∫ This frame shows the point of momentum of both Dylan (#20) and Dante (#22).  Dante's right leg will come into direct contact with Dylan's left leg from the lateral site fracturing both the fibula and tibia.

∫ This frame shows the point of momentum of both Dylan (#20) and Dante (#22).  Dante’s right leg will come into direct contact with Dylan’s left leg from the lateral side fracturing both the fibula and tibia.

∫  This is a millisecond before the fracture.  Dante's right leg will pin Dylan's left leg with a great force.  At this moment, all of Dylan's weight is on his left limb with leg inverted and knee slightly bent.  Dante's momentum comes into contact with Dylan breaking his fibular and tibia in an instant.

∫ This is a millisecond before the fracture. Dante’s right leg will pin Dylan’s left leg with a great force. At this moment, all of Dylan’s weight is on his left limb with leg inverted and knee slightly bent. Dante’s momentum comes into contact with Dylan breaking his fibula and tibia in an instant.

∫ This shows Dylan's left leg being forcibly snapped after Dante's right leg hits Dylan's.  Dylan's momentum was traveling in the opposite direction as the force of Dante's leg.

∫ This shows Dylan’s left leg being forcibly snapped after Dante’s right leg hits Dylan’s. Dylan’s momentum was traveling in the opposite direction as the force of Dante’s leg.

∫ This shows Dylan (top) and Dante (bottom) directly heading toward each other on the play.  Dante forcibly falls left and whips his right leg into Dylan's in the next millisecond.

∫ This is another view showing Dylan (top) and Dante (bottom) directly heading toward each other on the play. Dante forcibly falls left and whips his right leg into Dylan’s in the next millisecond.

∫ In this frame, Dante's right leg comes into direct contact with Dylan's left lateral leg.  You can see his leg begin to invert with Dylan's left shoe still planted on the ground.  This was the point of impact fracturing Dylan's leg like a twig.

∫ In this frame, Dante’s right leg comes into direct contact with Dylan’s left lateral leg. You can see his leg begin to invert with Dylan’s left shoe still planted on the ground. This was the point of impact fracturing Dylan’s leg like a twig.

The angular momentum and force of Dante’s right leg was like a ‘karate chop’ to Dylan’s left lateral leg.  Dylan’s body weight and force was planted on his left leg at the time of impact as his momentum was traveling outward in the opposite direction.  This was an unfortunate series of events that brought 2 players together at just the wrong time.

I’m hoping that the football league and all college teams look at this play closely.  I think it is one that is dangerous and should be taken off the play books.  That is just my thoughts, but an injury like this could very well happen again.

After his injury, he was placed in an air cast and taken off the field.  Many people could see the disfigurement of a fracture by the misshapen leg while he was laying on the field.  Luckily, it did not appear to be an open fracture, but very well could have been by the forces sustained in the injury.  Again, our hearts and well wishes go out to Dylan Schellenberg for a speedy recovery.

1 reply »

  1. I have hit the “like” button because I support Dylan, and his full recovery!
    Sports are a wonderful thing for all us fans, and I wish Dylan and all injured players the best to get well soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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