What Does Wide Receiver Wes Welker's Rehab From Knee Surgery Have To Do With Physical Therapy After An Accident?
The healing process from an injury following an accident can sometimes be quite long, depending on the extent of the injury. But is there a typical period of time that an accident victim can expect to receive medical care?
Well, according to Wes Welker, wide receiver for the New England Patriots, the period of time required to heal is substantially less than what your doctors might say. In January 2010 during a playoff game against the Houston Texans, he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and his left medial collateral ligament (MCL). It would be a minimum of a year before he was healed. There was no chance of his playing the 2010-2011 season. Then he showed up for training camp a mere eight months post surgery. Now he's back full tilt as a starter in September. As stated by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports:
“Welker’s story as an undersized, unwanted everyman who became the most prolific pass-catcher in the NFL was already bordering on saccharine Disney sports-flick levels. Then came Sunday, [September 14, 2010] when he shaved a remarkable three-plus months off the predicted recovery time and returned to action 252 days after his massive injury.
This is from Welker's press conference after the September 14, 2010 game:
Q: Did any of the Bengals say ‘welcome back' after they tackled you?
WW: No, there weren't any touchy feely moments like that or anything.
Q: Is this just another game for you or is this a highlight of the year you've had?
WW: I'd like to say that it was a highlight, but it was just another game, not going out there and preparing and thinking, ‘this is the big comeback' or whatever. For me, it was just getting out there playing, being out there with my teammates and trying to contribute to a win.
Q: What did you say to the doctors when they gave you the original timetable for return?
WW: It was kind of like, ‘well, let's wait and see where we're at when we get there.' So, I tried to put it in their heads early and from there, they were able to see me on the field and able to get out there and play.
Q: Did you ever feel like you could prove the doctors wrong?
WW: Yeah, kind of ... you know doctors, what do they know? So, I think when they saw my quad and how all the muscles were same size as the other side, they were a little bit shocked, but at the same time, very cautious.
Read more at the Patriots website:
Having had ACL reconstruction surgery myself, I know that the recovery period is long. My orthopedic surgeon told me it would be at least eight months before I could resume sports activities. It took that long, and about a full year from the date of surgery until I was close to being fully confident with my knee when playing any kind of sport.
Now, Wes Welker is a professional athlete who has all kinds of physical therapy available to him and can rehab on a daily basis. I dare say that rehab was the primary focus of his life, and he was being paid to do just that so he could get back on the field and compete for his team.
As much as I wanted to rehab daily, followed up with an ice bath for my knee, I could only rehab three times per week, and then for only eight to ten weeks post surgery because that was all my health insurance carrier was willing to pay. I still had to litigate and try my clients' cases! I remember hiring a sports rehab therapist and paying her privately after my health insurance approved rehab was completed. It was important for me to get back where I needed to be, as soon as I practically could, without re-injuring myself.
What does Wes Welker’s approach and recovery say to accident victims in terms of maximizing physical therapy? It means listen to your doctors, but don’t take their word as gospel. Individual patients can do much better in the recovery process than any particular doctor may be used to seeing. Hard work in PT is the key. Wes Welker is a highly positive individual. But it's clear that his mental attitude helped to shape his recovery and shortened his recovery period from major surgery.