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Kobe Bryant’s Achilles Injury Treatment
- Dr. Ahmadi
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An injury to the Achilles tendon is a serious one, and a very difficult injury to overcome, as the Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant has discovered. Bryant suffered the injury toward the end of the season in 2013.
The Achilles tendon attaches the heel bone to the calf muscles and allows the foot to flex, making it possible to do activities like climbing stairs, and pushing off while walking, running, and jumping. Unfortunately, an Achilles tendon injury can occur in a snap without any warning, and rehabilitation treatment is in most cases very lengthy.
In a best case scenario, a tear in the Achilles tendon will end the season for a professional athlete, like it did for Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons. In a worst case scenario, the injury will end a player’s career, like it did for professional players Isiah Thomas and Shaquille O’Neal.
According to Dr. James Barnett, Orlando Magic team physician and member of the Association of Professional Team Physicians, treatment may require the ends of the tendon to be sewn together and the foot immobilized in a cast for a lengthy time. Recovery can take six to 12 weeks, which does not include long-term rehabilitation. Dr. Barnett cautions that if the tendon does not heal correctly and completely, there is a greater risk for re-injury.
In a study of injury and rehabilitation conducted by orthopedic surgeons Dr. Nirav Amin and Dr. Douglas Cerynik, cases were reviewed over a ten year period (1992-2012), in which 18 NBA players suffered torn Achilles tendons. Out of the cases studied, seven players never returned to playing the game.
Sports medicine and orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Geier suggests that it can take up to a year for an NBA player to get back to full recovery and regain their abilities for regular play and optimum performance. However, as the study conducted by Amin and Cerynik indicated, the majority of players who experience an Achilles tendon injury may never get back to where they were before the injury.
As for Bryant, the surgeon who performed surgery on the player’s Achilles tendon states that, “He’s figured out a way to get through it and be one of the best players in the NBA.” However, caution and regular therapy will be an important part of making sure Kobe Bryant can stay on the court.