Dr. Eric Price creates waterproof cast for local pro surfer

September 29, 2010 EasternSurf.com

In a Cast, But Not Out Of Play

Long Island Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Eric Price Works Wonders With Waterproof Cast

Remember last summer, when rising New York superstar Balaram Stack had that nasty wrist injury? Well, if it doesn’t ring a bell, we won’t blame you. After all, the New York wunderkid was back in the water and shredding so soon that his broken wrist barely registered as a blip on the radar. But it could easily have been a much different story.

When Stack showed up at orthopedic surgeon Dr. Eric Price’s Long Island office, it wasn’t because of a mind-blowing accident. He didn’t get hurt going over the falls on a suicidal big-wave charge, and he didn’t get mugged while on a surf trip in some seedy third-world country. Instead, Bal was just cruising around Point Lookout on his bike, like any normal 17-year-old kid, when the bike’s chain snapped, pitching him headfirst over the handlebars. He put his hands out to protect himself and then… CRUNCH!

After a few X-rays, it was determined that Stack had broken a small cashew-shaped bone in his wrist called the scaphoid. It’s the most common type of wrist fracture – Mick Fanning broke the very same bone in 2008 while snowboarding in Japan. But just because it’s a typical injury doesn’t mean it’s easy to treat. Recovering from a broken scaphoid requires the wrist to be immobilized in a cast for up to three months, and in extreme cases, surgery may even be necessary.

So when Dr. Price learned that Stack, his patient of several years, had broken his scaphoid, he was concerned for him, both as a doctor and as a fellow surfer. “That bone is very delicate and can take a while to recover, so to sideline someone like Balaram for that long could have massive implications on his career goals,” Dr. Price says. “I know if I had to miss three months of surfing I’d lose it, so we made sure we did everything we could to get him healed up as quickly as possible.”

Price pulled out all the stops for Balaram’s treatment, creating a special waterproof cast and even inserting an electronic device called a bone stimulator to speed up the healing process. Thanks to all this state-of-the-art technology, Bal didn’t miss a beat. He was back out in the water and competing immediately, including mere weeks later for the NSSA National Championships in California. And now that he’s all healed up, Balaram’s probably all but forgotten about last summer’s trauma.

But for Dr. Price, helping out a talented and hardworking kid like Stack was an opportunity he will never forget. As a token of his appreciation, Balaram gave Price a poster signed by himself and other Quiksilver riders, and now, each day when Price walks into his office, he smiles as he thinks about one of his favorite patients.

“It was inspiring to be able to take care of someone who’s so excellent at what they do, especially when it’s a sport that I love,” Price said. “I almost felt like I was being given the opportunity to take a small part in his career by helping him get back on his game. And when we’re talking about someone who’s such a standout surfer, that’s a pretty cool thing.”