How Kevin Durant Beat the Worst Injury in Basketball
The Wall Street Journal reports on Kevin Durant's recovery and comeback to the NBA following an Achilles tear in 2019 according to HSS foot and ankle surgeon Martin J. O'Malley, MD, who performed Durant's repair surgery, as well as his rehab team.
After operating on Durant’s same foot in 2015, Dr. O’Malley already had the trust of his patient. “I have this ongoing relationship with him,” he explained. “And his feet.”
The NBA season was over and Durant was a free agent. Dr. O’Malley, who is also the team orthopedist for the Brooklyn Nets, found out from his son that Durant was signing with Brooklyn. “There was never even a hint,” he cited.
Durant spent a summer with his physiotherapist in Los Angeles, where his days included 90 minutes of morning treatment, a gym workout, 90 minutes of afternoon treatment and evening pool work. They ordered an antigravity treadmill and replicated the mechanics of his favorite moves. Dr. O’Malley watched by FaceTime. Everything they did was meant to prevent the Achilles from stretching.
Durant's physiotherapist moved back to Brooklyn with him, as the recovery process continued in the team's practice facility. They could track how he was progressing by looking at his data.
It takes basketball players with Achilles ruptures about 10 months to return. A rehab of 10 months would have normally coincided with the 2020 playoffs. Waiting for this season would have given him 16 months in a normal year, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Durant decided not to join the Nets in the NBA bubble last summer. It was 18 months before he played again.
Dr. O'Malley said Durant can be a model for athletes with this ruinous injury in the future. “At two years,” he noted, “they should approach a full recovery.”
Read the full article at WSJ.com. This article also appeared in print on February 14, 2021.
Additional coverage: Netsdaily.com