Problem Library

Will I Ever Be Able to Run Again, Doc?

Length: 3-6 hours

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Level: Advanced (majors)

Author: Tallitsch, Robert

Bob is a 53-year-old college professor. He is a regular runner, averaging between 25-35 miles per week. During the academic year he runs with one or two fellow professors during the noon hour. In the summer he prefers to run at sun up when it is cooler. It is Saturday, and Bob has met up with his regular weekend running bunch. By approximately mile 10 Bob is comfortable with his pace, and the conversation has settled onto the topic of the day – politics. In mid-stride Bob experiences a sudden and severe shooting pain in his back, and he immediately falls to the ground, causing several in the running pack to trip and fall as well. As the running group comes to a halt, Bob is the only runner unable to regain his feet. After a few minutes, the back pain has subsided somewhat, but Bob notices that he has a significant weakness affecting his lower extremities, and a general ‘weird’ feeling to his entire body. One of the running group heads to a nearby house and calls an ambulance. Students are asked, through this two-part problem, to arrive at a diagnosis for the patient as well as answer other related questions.

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