Ever since learning quarterback Brock Purdy had suffered a «complete tear» of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing elbow, the San Francisco 49ers have been seeking second opinions to see what procedure should be done to get him back on the field. field.
Purdy’s injury, suffered during the Niners’ first series in the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, was the last thing head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch wanted to see after just a one-game win. trip to the Super Bowl.
Now his main focus has shifted to whether Purdy, who replaced the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 and went 7-0 before the loss to the Eagles, can be ready for training camp in August.
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Dr. David Altchek, Associate Orthopedic Surgeon and Co-Director Emeritus of the Hospital of Special Surgery Sports Medicine Institute in New York, specializes in UCL reconstruction, better known as Tommy John surgery.
Altchek has operated some of the best in MLB, including the New York Yankees’ Luis Severino and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Noah Syndergaard.
The 49ers don’t think a full ligament reconstruction is necessary, and Altchek agrees with their thinking.
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Speaking with Fox News Digital, Altchek explained the two common options for repairing the UCL. And he believes, despite not seeing an MRI, that Purdy’s situation requires an alternative called an internal brace.
«The ways to fix it are classically to repair it and do a reconstruction with a tendon graft, and that’s what Tommy John surgery is,» Altchek explained. «The less invasive alternative is to repair it and supplement it with a synthetic ligament, which is called an internal corset.»
Lynch said Wednesday that the team believes news of Purdy’s further evaluations sees him return to the field in full force in six months.
«I think the positive part of the news is that it seems consistent that the right approach is the one to take around that six-month mark,» Lynch said. «Now, everyone will also say that you never know until you go in there. Every surgeon will tell you that every surgery, you always like to go in to see exactly. The MRI tells you a lot of the images, so they go on to work through that process. But we seem to be encouraged by the prognosis that that’s where it is.»
Altchek agreed with Lynch, saying that whoever performs the surgery will clearly know the best course of action once the procedure begins. If the internal brace procedure is the answer, Altchek is sure six months will be the right time for Purdy, preparing him for training camp.
«It’s a good plan for him,» Altchek said. «It’ll work out and he’ll be able to come back. I don’t think six months is out of the question. I really don’t think so.»
However, there is a discovery that could change the trajectory of Purdy’s surgery.
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«The quality of the fabric, you really don’t understand it until you walk in [the MRI]. So if you tear the ligament in the middle, which is called the substantia media, and you tear up the tissue, the repair won’t really work. So you may have to resort to some kind of reconstruction.»
Reconstruction, then, would mean Tommy John surgery, which normally has a recovery time of nine to 12 months.
That surgery is usually synonymous with elite pitchers. It is named after Tommy John, who spent 26 years pitching in the MLB for various teams. The reason you don’t hear it often with quarterbacks is because of the way the ball is thrown.
That’s the key to why Altchek has seen quarterbacks like former Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer in 2008 and even Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen this season be able to throw well after recovering from a torn thigh. U.C.L.
Of course, the severity of each tear is different, but the healing process, and the throwing motion quarterbacks often use, usually leaves no long-term effects.
«The groundwork of quarterbacks versus pitchers: There was a very, very good study to show that the more lateral your launch point is, the further your hand is from the midline of your body, the more stress there is. at UCL,» Altchek said. .
«When you think about a pitcher versus a quarterback, the quarterback has the ball not that far from his ear when he throws, no matter how far he reaches back. So his point of delivery is much more medial and that puts a lot less stress on the UCL.
«The debate really is in baseball, not football. I don’t see [Purdy] having some problem. I think he’s going to do very well.»
In terms of rehabilitation, Altchek says it’s likely Purdy can start pitching about three months after surgery.
«They talk about starting to pitch at like 10 weeks and then progressing in terms of effort and velocity from 10 weeks to the six-month mark when they’re released to go unlimited,» he explained.
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So if Purdy does end up going through the internal bracing procedure, San Francisco can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their potential starting quarterback could be ready for the start of training camp.
Trey Lance, who broke his ankle in Week 2 of the regular season, prompting Garoppolo to take over, is his third overall pick of 2021. He should also be ready for training camp, which will draw big competence.
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Purdy finished the regular season with 1,374 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions in five starts and nine games played. He also threw for three touchdowns and 332 yards in a wild card round win over the Seattle Seahawks. He was 19 of 29 passing for 214 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round.