Both bowlers were competing in the $170,000 Johnny Petraglia PBA Open at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, New Jersey. The two competitors sought help for their problems from the same source -- chiropractic treatment. Neither bowler had to travel far: The chiropractors were already there.
Chiropractic's official involvement with the PBA began with the ACA's Sports Council's involvement with the Ladies Professional Bowlers tour. When the PBA heard about the good results, the organization contacted the ACA to inquire about initiating a similar program which would begin at the Petraglia Open. The PBA asked New Brunswick chiropractor Dr. Robert Sellari to assemble a team of New Jersey chiropractic sports physicians, since the state has a law that prohibits out-of-state physicians from practicing there. The team that Dr. Sellari recruited included Drs. Ira Shapiro, Michael Spadafino, Blase Toto, Dale Buchberger, and Tony DeLuca. "They all volunteered their time to the PBA to help the bowlers and to let people know that chiropractic is out there and is a safe and effective way of keeping the body functioning the way it's supposed to," said Dr. Sellari.
PBA pros Lawrence and Mazza both were treated and both made the finals. Mazza rolled a perfect 300 game in the first game of match-play.
"My arm was very sore and tight," said Lawrence. "With this electric stimulating they're doing here, it keeps it loose and it stays loose the whole time I'm bowling. As soon as I'm done, I throw an ice pack on it so it doesn't swell and tighten up, and it feels great."
"He (Lawrence) went back to his old style of bowling in the last couple weeks, which is really a lot of turning his forearm," observed Dr. Shapiro. "The pronator teres muscle was his problem. His old style of bowling is a lot of pronation. Because Lawrence couldn't get so much rotation on his arm, his scores started to taper off," Dr. Shapiro surmised.
The chiropractic team is currently keeping a case history file on each pro bowler treated, which establishes injury history and tendencies toward particular injuries. Dr. Sellari explained: "That file will travel with the pro bowler; wherever the PBA tour takes them, there will be a chiropractic support team (members of the Council) able to treat those athletes."
Dr. Sellari noted that the program was a hit among the pros. "On Monday, the first day (the Petralia Open), we must have started about 40 files on the bowlers and started to treat right then and there. With those who had chiropractic care before, we resumed their care where their previous physician left off. With the ones who were never treated, we worked the muscles, the ligaments, stretched them out, and did anything it took to make their performance or at least their physical condition better."
The bowlers expressed gratitude for the chiropractic treatment, and the assistance with ongoing physical difficulties associated with their sport.
Dr. Shapiro said there were very distinct injury patterns: He noted the tendency toward inflammation and muscle spasms of the supporting structures of the sacroiliac area. He asserted the cause was from the torque created when the bowler (e.g., right-handed) plants the right foot and slides the left foot forward on deliver of the ball. The majority of the bowlers also experienced problems with their bowling hand, the trapezius muscle, and the area just beneath the shoulder blade.
"This is only the second time I've used chiropractic," said pro John Mazza. He feels the chiropractors would be an asset for the tour. "They know what they're doing. They're professionals," he said.
Pro Robert Lawrence was new to chiropractic: "I've never used chiropractic before. Two weeks ago I hurt my back bowling ... I pulled a muscle and it's been tight for two weeks. They took care of that in one session and my back hasn't hurt since then. ... Now I know that the chiropractors are real."