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Monday, September 17, 2012

ND's Lo Wood and Jamoris Slaughter and Achilles Tendon Injuries

Lo Wood
Jamoris Slaughter
First Lo Wood and now Jamoris Slaughter, both succumbing to Achilles Tendon injuries, both lost for the 2012 season. 

We all know our Greek mythology and the warrior Achilles getting laid low by an arrow to the heel of his foot.  Likewise we have used or heard the expression “Achilles heel” meaning a weak spot or a vulnerability however most of us have not experienced such an injury.  It appears that it happens more to athletes than to us sedimentary folks.

We have called upon our resident physical therapist (PT) expert, Alex Brenner (doctorate in PT) to answer a few questions and get us educated.
First thing though, what did you think of the whipping the Irish put on Sparky Saturday night?

Thank you for allowing me to comment on Jamoris Slaughter’s and Lo Wood’s injuries. I have seen these types of injuries many times in my practice. First of all, I enjoyed thoroughly the ass whipping that we put on Sparty. I haven’t seen a defensive domination since the Holtz years.

Q.  It was reported that Wood suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and Slaughter a torn Achilles tendon.  Is there a difference or just lay-person talk?  If different, could explain the injuries?

A. The Achilles tendon is the thick cord that you can feel on the back of the ankle. It is formed from the large calf muscle in our lower leg and is what attaches to the back of the heel bone in our foot. A torn or ruptured Achilles tendon can mean the exact thing. To me though, using rupture as a description implies that the tendon has been completely torn away from the bone; obviously a more serious injury than just a tear. It is possible to partially tear the Achilles tendon and depending on the severity it may not require surgical correction. A completely ruptured or completely torn Achilles would require surgery.

Q.  What is the cause?  Apparently Wood was simply back peddling in space and had no contact.

A. Almost always an Achilles injury is non-contact meaning they are damaged without contact with another player. Back pedaling requires a pretty high eccentric stress/load on the calf and could lead to a tear. It is not clear why elite athletes suffer these so frequently.

Q.  Is the prognosis 100% recovery?  What is the timeframe?  Will they be available for spring practice?

A. Prognosis for 100% recovery is very guarded. It is nearly impossible to sew the tendon back together and expect it to be 100% as strong as it was before the injury. Receiving top notch ortho care will ensure they get the best repair possible but nothing is certain. Unfortunately the Achilles tendon is mostly avascular meaning it does not get a whole lot of blood supply so it does not heal quickly. Following surgery, the patients are immobilized in a walking boot (CAM-Walker) for 6-8 weeks to promote healing. Coming out of the Walker in 6-8 weeks they are able to start physical therapy; however, rehab and recovery is very slow. Look for him to be in rehab for 6 months at a minimum so it is possible they will be back for light drills in the Spring.

Q.  What is the physical therapy regimentation?  

A. Following immobilization, rehab focuses on early range of motion, stretching exercises and manual therapy to maintain full ankle range of motion. Once full range of motion is achieved the focus is switched to strengthening and eventually on to functional and skilled activities that mimic football movements.

Q.  Once receiving such an injury are you susceptible to injuring it again as in certain ankle sprains?

A. After receiving this type of injury you are susceptible to reinjuring the same area but I don’t know of any evidence that predisposes one to ankle sprains or other lower extremity injuries.

Q.  Anything else you want to add?

A.  It would be good to know if the injuries suffered by Wood and Slaughter are partial tears or complete tears because partial tears could potentially avoid surgery and recovery would be probably cut in at least half. Do we know this information?

Lastly, I have seen Achilles Tendon ruptures result in career ending situation depending on the severity. It is not completely certain that these players can recover and return to productive football careers.
Well the defensive back position was a little thin before the start of the season and now the loss of a cornerback and safety make it even thinner.  Brain Kelly has two verbal committments for CB in the class of 2013, Devin Butler and Rashad Kinlaw.  Suspect he will redouble his recruiting efforts at Safety and CB.  He has convertered RB's and WR's to defensive side of the ball and it appears more needs to be done.

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