10 January 2006

Lemons Now, Lemonade Later

First of all, the hit on Carson Palmer was neither dirty nor late. It was a legit play. Until someone shows up with a video from the grassy knoll, that's how it's gonna stay.

I separate sports injuries into 3 categories: muscle, bone, and connective tissue (ligaments, tendons). The best thing to hurt is a muscle; the worst a ligament or tendon.

I've actually had the exact same injury as Palmer: torn ACL and MCL. ACL tears are the bread and butter of orthopedic surgeons ("sportsmedicine" doctors, even though half of them probably can't even throw a football; I doubt mine could). Here's what I think will happen with Carson Palmer:

First, he will get surgery to repair the knee (within the next 2 weeks, I'm guessing). They will most likely replace the torn ligaments with cadaver ligaments which will provide a matrix for the body to reconstruct new ligaments over several months.

You cannot move the leg after surgery, and it's pretty sore for the first week. His leg will be in a brace to keep it immobilized. If you keep it immobilized for too long, however, scar tissue builds up and restricts flexibility. So in the 2nd week physical therapy starts with bending and straightening the joint. The physical therapist "helps" (hurts) you by pushing down on the knee to straighten it out and pushing back on it to bend it. That's what you do over and over for the first few weeks. It's not as pleasant as an evening with Selma Hayek, but the framed newspaper story about Ron Oester on the wall will help boost Palmer's morale.

(Oester tore BOTH his ACL and PCL (A=anterior, P=posterior) in one horribly gruesome play. That was the end of Oester's baseball career and the Reds got a new 2nd baseman. Two years later, Oester was back on the team and better than before).

Palmer will keep the brace on for 4-6 weeks, which they'll continually adjust to allow for more flexibility. When he gets out of the brace, his left leg will seem freakishly thin compared to the right one. He'll spend the next 5 months regaining (and adding) leg strength.

Muscle strength in the thigh is very important following knee surgery. The quadriceps muscles stabilize the knee and mitigate joint laxity, so expect Palmer to come back stronger than before. Stronger legs make better throwers. It may seem counterintuitive, but it's true. Palmer will probably be an even better passer next year.

He won't be 100% by July, but he'll be good enough to show up at training camp and practice. I think it's quite likely that he could start the first game in September.

I also think Palmer will return with renewed resolve to play QB. As of this moment, when people think "quarterback" they think "Peyton Manning" or "Tom Brady." Palmer wants to change that. One of the things he wanted to do was win his first playoff game. He didn't get his shot, and I think he'll return with renewed resolve to get his team back there.

And he won't be the only one.

So my Bengals forecast is basically this: lemons now, lemonade later.


Mark said...

Did anyone else think of Tim Krumrie? Now that was a bad injury.

WestEnder said...

Yes, that was ugly (remember all the replays... ugh), but it's always better to break a bone than a ligament. Krumrie was right back the next season. Kenyon Martin's injury was also a bone break and he's going strong in the NBA.

JenJen said...

Spot on! I'm taking the pins out of my Kimo von Oelhoffen doll as we speak.

Louis said...

Did you put Salma Hayek's name in for the page hits? I do the same with Monica Bellucci.

WestEnder said...

No, it was because I love Selma Hayek. And as soon as she gets rid of that stupid restraining order, she will see that she loves me, too.

TravisG said...

My sedentary lifestyle has spared me serious injury, but this sentence cracked me up, because it reminded me of my brothers' and grandpa's reports:

"The physical therapist 'helps' (hurts) you by pushing down on the knee to straighten it out and pushing back on it to bend it."

I think he'll be fine eventually, and it's good that he's not a RB or WR, who usually play at a lower level for the first year of recovery after ligament tears. He might not be as mobile next season, but he doesn't move much in the pocket, anyway. However, I think he's likely to miss up to four games to start the season. Presumably, Kitna (if they re-sign him) would go into the season a little more in sync with the offense after training camp, but they can't afford a slow start with their grueling schedule next year. The division will be tougher next year, if anything (except for Baltimore, who I predict will really suck for the next couple of years).