Fractured Arm


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Feb 25, 2007

My son is a high school senior and applied for 4 year Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship. He is awaiting a decision from the selection board. He is a varsity wrestler and fractured his ulna and radius at wrestling practice. He underwent surgery, open reduction internal fixation a couple of days ago so he now has a plates and screws. The orthopedist recommended this procedure instead of just casting the arm. The orthopedist said he would be in a splint for 2 months, then he could go back to wrestling with his team. He said he would take the hardware out in six months. This time frame puts my son getting the hardware out around May 1st. If my son receives a NROTC scholarship, what problems are we likely to run into? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
From your post its not clear if your son has already taken his DoDMERB physical. If he has, he will need to submit all the medical records regarding the frature and surgery, and it will mean a disqualification.

If he has not taken his physical, I would gather copies of all the medical records regarding the fracture and surgery, and again, it will mean a disqualification.

The disqualification will be for "Orthopedic injury occurring in the preceding 6 weeks". This is a time limited disqualification, so as long as your son has been released to full activities by the surgeon, in 6 weeks the disqualification can be removed by DoDMERB.

You state that the orthopedic surgeon is going to remove the hardware in 6 months. Is this because the surgeon wants to, or is it because you and your son want it removed? Retained orthopedic hardware, that is not symptomatic, does not interefere with the proper wearing of protective equipment or military uniform, and is not subject to easy trauma, and as long as the fracture is healed, is not a disqualification. My opinion (NOT MEDICAL ADVICE OR DoDMERB POLICY) would be to leave the hardware in place if the surgeon agrees.

If the hardware were to be removed, your son would again be disqualified for "Orthopedic injury occurring in the preceding 6 weeks", and again, after the 6 weeks as long as he was released to full activities by the surgeon, the disqualification would be removed.

I hope this makes sense and is clear. If not, or if you have other questions, please feel free to let me know!
If the hardware needs to come out then you could always wait until after matriculation to college and then on one of the breaks from school have it taken out.
Thank you RetNavyHM and kp2001 for your replies. Just to clarify, my son has not taken his DoDMERB physical yet. With N.R.O.T.C., one is awarded the scholarship first, then takes the DoDMERB physical. I'm sorry my previous post was not clear on this. The fractures are in the forearm, if this matters. The orthopedist told me he could leave the hardware in or take it out in six months. I was under the impression that "retained hardware" was an automatic disqualification for the military so I thank you RetNavyHM for setting me straight.
I will follow your advice and NOT have the screws, plates removed in six months.
To sum up, in your opinion RetNavyHM, if my son makes a full recovery, full range of motion, good grip strength, etc., do you think he has a decent chance of receiving a waiver with the hardware left in? It is November so we still have many months left to get through the DoDMERB process IF my son receives a scholarship. Thanks again for your help.

I just looked at son's medical paperwork and it says for diagnosis: Mid ulnar and proximal radial fractures. I wanted to be as concise as possible. Also in my previous post, I think I should not have asked you your opinion on chances of waiver as that was inappropriate. Perhaps a better way of putting it should have been, have you seen other applicants with similar types of fractures with retained hardware be approved by the medical authorities. Again, thanks a lot.
Feel free to ask anything! If I don't know the answer I'll let you know. If I think someone will not get a waiver, I'll be honest about it and let you know. I will let you know that I am never 100% correct, I've been wrong, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. So never feel that you can't ask a question.

As for your son, 6 weeks after his surgery, as long as his surgeon has released him to full activities and he doesn't have any problems with the hardware, there should be no reason for DoDMERB to disqualify your son as far as his arm goes. DoDMERB will request all the medical records from the time he fracured his arm, to the time he is released to full activities, so you can start gathering those records now, and after each appointment, physical thearapy visit, get a copy of the physician and thearapists notes. This way, you will have everything ready to go when DoDMERB requests them. Do not send the records with his physical examination, they will not make it to DoDMERB, wait until DoDMEB requests it.

To clear up any confusion, for at least 20 years, any retained hardware was a disqualification. It was a pretty easy waiver, but you can imagine the problems people would have with it, especially if it was asymptomatic. Just recently (in the past 3 years) the standards changed, and as long as the hardware is asymptomatic, it is no longer a disqualification. If you look at the list of disqualifications on the DoDMERB web site, it is still listed, but that is only used if the retained hardware is symptomatic.

I hope this clears up any confusion!

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask. :biggrin:

Thanks so much for all the information. I will start gathering records so I can have them all ready to go. I believe it will be longer than 6 weeks after surgery before the surgeon releases him to full activities as I believe the surgeon said his arm has to stay in a splint for 8 weeks. We have an appointment this Friday with the surgeon so I will get clarification. This is all good news for my son. Thank you again.