SportsDoc Update: Kobe Bryant, 12/20/13
1280 The Zone - December 20th, 2013
Tags: Spence and Gordon, SportsDoc
Kobe Bryant suffers a fractured tibial plateau. How might this be related to his torn Achilles and what thing does his injury have in common with RG III being benched for the Redskins? Maybe something to do with not being able to mess with with Mother Nature?
While there will some that say that Bryant's injury is just another injury, I am convinced that it was from inadequate time to recover his Achilles tendon injury. Besides the Achilles itself healing, which takes at least a year to be normal if you're lucky, there are many other things that happen to the rest of the body during the time of healing. One thing is that it is necessary to not put any weight on the repaired tendon for a 6-8 week period of time. That creates an imbalance in the muscles of that leg and the other leg. There are changes in bone strength that happen when you change the amount of weight you put on your leg for a long period not to mention the muscle changes. Also you lose some of the reflex fast twitch muscle firing patterns that are part of the ability to change direction fast and explode to the basket in basketball or get away from a lineman in football if you are a quarterback. These are subtle changes that take time and just doing the movements to get back. Unfortunately simple measurements of just strength which are commonly done to test an athlete's ability to return to play don't and can't test these things
Some athletes seem to think they can be "the one" that heals faster than everyone else because they work harder and have superhuman healing capacity. This may be because they are exceptional in their athletic abilities and that can carry over into how they heal. In RG III's case, it is well known in the Sports Medicine community that a knee isn't "right" for a year after an ACL repair. The ability to plant ,cut, and change direction in a repaired knee takes more than just strength. While an athlete can think they are ready because their knee feels strong, there are still functional aspects to being normal that take about a year to be back to normal. His surgery was done less than a year ago, so to expect him to be able to do the same things he did pre-injury to start this season is/was unrealistic and I think his coaches saw he just didn't have it, yet.
The lesson here is that there are certain aspects of healing that just take a certain amount of time, no matter who you are. You can't mess with Mother Nature, no matter who you are or how many special injections you can get. Those factors need to be considered before return to sport, especially at the highest levels. It looks like both Kobe and RGIII are finding that out.