Kobe Bryant’s Achilles Tendon Rupture: Is His Career Over?
As Kobe Bryant limped off the court in the closing minutes of last week’s victory against the Golden State Warriors, it was painfully obvious that this was not another one of his walk-it-off injuries. All it took for Kobe Bryant’s Achilles tendon to tear was one quick stutter while driving towards the basket, a move that he has performed thousands if not millions of times.
Bryant’s injury was classified as a Grade 3 rupture of the Achilles tendon, the large strand of tissue connecting the calf muscles in the leg to the heel bone. After undergoing successful surgical repair of the tendon, he now faces six to nine months of rigorous rehabilitation.
Many are questioning his ability, at age 34, to fully recover and continue to be a valuable, dominant force for the Lakers. However, with his history of overcoming some serious setbacks through 17 seasons and an unmatched competitive drive, it isn’t a stretch to believe that Bryant will make a successful return late next season.
Dr. Steven Meier, an orthopedic surgeon in Beverly Hills, is a leading expert in advanced surgical techniques and offers cutting-edge solutions to various sports-related injuries. If you have suffered an Achilles tendon injury or would like to learn more about sports medicine therapies, feel free to contact Dr. Meier’s private practice at (310) 777-7845.
Treatment for Achilles Tendon Rupture
Treatment for a torn Achilles tendon depends on the severity of tissue damage, the age of the patient, and level of expected activity upon recovery. While Achilles tendon ruptures can be treated with cast immobilization in lower demand patients, Dr. Meier normally recommends and performs surgical repair in athletes and other active individuals due to the stronger repair and ability to employ accelerated rehabilitation, shortening down-time.
Surgical repair of the Achilles involves meticulously stitching the shredded ends of the tendon back together. Following surgery, the foot may be immobilized for a period of six to eight weeks in a boot to promote healing and help prevent re-injury of the tendon.
What Is the Prognosis for a Torn Achilles Tendon?
Achilles tendon injuries are notorious among athletes given the lengthy and challenging rehabilitation process. While countless professional athletes, including NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Isiah Thomas, have been forced to retire early due to a torn Achilles, others such as former Atlanta shooting guard and highlight reel dunker Dominique Wilkins and NFL linebacker Terrell Suggs have each made very successful returns to competition.
Though several variables play a role in recovery from an Achilles tendon rupture, the one that a patient has the most control over and that can have the biggest impact is rehabilitation. Dr. Meier understands the challenges of rehabilitation and works with each patient throughout the recovery process to achieve the best possible outcomes.
During the first several months after surgery, it is crucial to avoid over-stressing or re-injuring the repaired tendon. A rehabilitation program aims to progressively restore weight-bearing capability to the Achilles while strengthening complementary muscles in the leg and foot. Patients who are generally healthy and have adhered to a strict physical therapy schedule can achieve a near to full recovery.
Contact a Beverly Hills Orthopedic Surgeon
Dr. Steven Meier is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in sports medicine and minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. As a leading authority on shoulder and knee injuries and an expert in the field of joint preservation and cartilage restoration, Dr. Meier offers a variety of cutting-edge treatments for sports injuries.