On the basketball court, there's not much that can stop Augustana Viking Brandon Motzel. However, this time last year, his college basketball career almost came to a screeching halt.
"Last year here, in the CCIW (College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) Championship Game, just took an elbow to my hand," explained Brandon. "I thought I had jammed my finger."
"He came over to the bench to the Athletic Trainer," added Dr. J.C. Clark, a Sports Medicine Surgeon with ORA Orthopedics. "Luckily, I was there, so I came down to evaluate him and he had immediate swelling in his hand and a palpable deformity of his metacarpal so we knew right there that we probably had a fracture to deal with."
Brandon broke a bone, which normally results in a cast. However, with March Madness just days away, Dr. Clark - who is also the Head Team Physician for Augustana College and an Augustana Alum - gave Brandon two options:
"He said - okay, you can either be in a cast and be done or we can put some screws it in and try to hold it together," said Brandon. "I said - well, there's no way I'm not going to play in the NCAA Tournament."
"In 99% of the cases like Brandon's - with his particular fracture - we'd cast it, but because he was a Division III athlete going into a play-off run, we offered the plating technique," said Dr. Clark.
Dr. Clark placed a plate and six screws in Brandon's hand to hold the bone together. Within days, he was back on the basketball court.
"I played the whole NCAA Tournament with just a foam pad on both sides," said Brandon. "Adrenaline did most of the work and Dr. Clark did the rest of the work keeping it held together."
"With athletes, it's one of those situations where you have to have an immediate diagnosis, an immediate treatment plan," explained Dr. Clark. "I have to say that every game I watched from then on I guarantee I was more nervous than Brandon."
However, both Brandon's and Dr. Clark's hard work paid off. Augustana went on to finish 2nd in the 2015 NCAA Division III Tournament. In 2016, they're practicing around the clock to get back to the championship game once again after becoming back-to-back CCIW Conference Champions.
There's another goal as well, though. After he graduates from Augustana in May, Brandon wants to go to Med School and become an Orthopedic Surgeon just like Dr. Clark.
"Brandon's been up to our clinic," said Dr. Clark . "He's observed almost all of us in the ORA clinics, examining patients."
"Having played sports my whole life, I know how much it means to me and how much it can help just in many areas, so I want to be able to keep younger athletes in sports too just like I was," said Brandon.
*Let’s Move QC is a monthly segment on WQAD. It’s all about being the best version of you by introducing viewers to real people in the Quad Cities who are doing just that, with a little extra help from the surgeons at ORA Orthopedics. The stories air every month (usually the last Monday of the month) during News 8 at 5 p.m.