By now most of us have seen the video of New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham crashing into Coach Sean Payton. It was a pretty ugly collision. The amazing thing was that he was so focused on the next call that he didn’t even see it coming. That’s concentration!
The preliminary report from the Saints doctors is that the surgery went well. But that by no means means that he is out of the woods. Now comes the hard part. Sean Payton will need extensive physical therapy to rehab the leg and get back to the sidelines.
Tibial plateau fractures rank high on the list of difficult injuries to recover from. A tibial plateau fracture is a break in the upper part of the lower leg bone. This fracture not only affects the bone, but also affects the knee joint. This type of injury can include tears to the ligaments of the knee including the ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament), PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament), MCL (Medial collateral ligament), or LCL (lateral collateral ligament). Fortunately for Payton it appears that only the MCL was involved, which usually heals well. The thing that will be of particular concern for the near future, will be the overall function of the knee, and the potential for arthritis.
Picture from http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/front/knee/tibial-plateua-fracture.htm
Here’s how the process will work. Payton’s fracture required surgery to stabilize the fracture. Now it is time for the healing to take place. Physical therapy will start right away working to reduce inflammation, pain, and promote healing. Therapy will focus on restoring full joint range of motion and activating the leg muscles. This is done with manual therapy, stretching and exercise. Coach Payton will be non-weight bearing, walking with crutches for at least 6-8 weeks to allow for the bone to heal. From there, the process will involve more stretching, strengthening and conditioning to restore the normal function of the knee and leg. This will be no simple task and will take months or longer. Here is a basic protocol for progression for an injury such as Sean Payton’s. My guess is that there will be many coaches meetings in the physical therapy clinic.
My advise to Coach Payton is to find a good physical therapist, trust them, take their advice, and be patient. Injuries like these take time to heal. Compliance early on will help him speed through the phases of healing and avoid long term complications.
For more information on tibial plateau fractures and rehab, please contact us.
- Sean Payton Injury: Coach’s Knee Injury Will Not Slow Surging Saints (bleacherreport.com)
- Knee Injuries on the Rise in Young Athletes (children.webmd.com)