11:13 AM

Assessing Joe Burrow’s timeline through eyes of doctors and history

The Athletic reports on quarterback Joe Burrow’s (Cincinnati Bengals) season ending torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL).

The Athletic spoke to Riley J. Williams III, MD, sports medicine surgeon at HSS, who did not treat Burrow, but commented on the treatment and recovery for this type of injury. 

Dr. Williams said the timing for surgery depends on the plan of attack with either fixing the MCL or letting it heal on its own, which depends on grade. “You have an ACL tear, most surgeons would say they wait anywhere from two-to-three weeks to have the surgery,” he said. “If you have an MCL tear you may wait a little longer. You may wait four-to-six weeks for the injury to heal. There are some surgeons, myself included, who advocate for operative repair of severe MCLs in which case you can stick to the initial timeline of 2-3 weeks if knew you were going to fix the MCL. It doesn’t really change the overall length of time you recover,” added Dr. Williams.

The difference in a timeline of nine months versus the 12 months return to play comes down to all the variables you would expect physically, but there is a mental component that Dr. Williams said they have found to be connected to early return to play. “We showed here that there are certain psychological objective scores we use — there is a thing called the Shortform 36 — that has a mental component score,” he explained. “We showed that a higher mental component score prior to injury is associated with a quicker return to sports. It’s more than just stabilizing the knee. Informally, you say the individual’s sense of grit and sturdiness plays to that number as well. That’s why we always give a range because that’s why there are things we can’t control as a doctor that play into that number.”

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