The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NCAA News: Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald Injured But Recovering

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

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It was described by the papers as a “gruesome, brutal ankle injury.” Mississippi State Bulldogs’ Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald went down on a three-yard run just nine minutes into the November 23rd game against their bitter rivals, Ole Miss Rebels. Although he returned on crutches to cheer his team on, it can be a worrisome prognosis for such a young player to sustain a dislocated ankle. Today, NYC sports doctors consider how Nick Fitzgerald was injured and how he is expected to recover.

Nick Fitzgerald sustained an ankle injury
Learn more about the ankle injury that took down Nick Fitzgerald. Image Source: Wikimedia user RalphTheCorndog.

Who is Nick Fitzgerald?

Nick Fitzgerald started the game as the Southeastern Conference leader in rushing yards with 968 yards in 11 games. His season has seen 1,770 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions so far. In fact, the junior was just 230 passing yards and 32 rushing yards away from becoming the first player in SEC history with multiple seasons topping 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. In other words, he’s darn good! In last year’s Egg Bowl, Fitzgerald took a school record running 258 yards, scored two touchdowns, and threw another three. As such, you can only imagine the splash it’s making now that such a skilled player has been injured.

How Was Nick Fitzgerald Injured?

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound player was tackled while running the ball. His leg bent awkwardly, resulting in a dislocated ankle. After trainers tended to him for several minutes, he had his leg stabilized in an air cast and was carted off the field. He immediately underwent X-rays but was allowed back on the field to cheer for his team.

The next morning, Fitzgerald underwent a successful surgery, which involved the insertion of a screw to bring his tibia and fibula closer together so the ligaments could regrow. Doctors told him he’d be able to remove the screw in January. He woke up after the ankle injury surgery in good spirits and “cracking jokes,” his father told The Dispatch.

What is the Prognosis for Ankle Dislocation in Football Players?

The typical immobilization period for a dislocated ankle is 6-8 weeks, though it could be longer if the tibia or talus bones were fractured. Once the dislocation has “healed” and the soft tissues have repaired, there is a process of rebuilding strength, flexibility, and skill that could take months to achieve, depending on the individual. This timetable means Fitzgerald will assuredly miss the TaxSlayer Bowl on December 30th. The soon-to-be-senior has set his sights on making it to spring training before the wrap-up on April 21st and getting his groove back for the 2018 season. With new coach Joe Moorhead taking up the reins, Fitzgerald will have to learn a new offensive strategy, which further complicates the recovery. But, so far, his trainers say he is progressing “faster than expected.”

The first step after a serious ankle injury like this is to regain motion and mobility. After an ankle dislocation, the player essentially has to re-learn how to walk. Long periods of immobilization leave people with a hobbled gait similar to a pirate getting around on a peg leg. Once the player is walking normally again, activities like jogging, cycling, and swimming can begin, as tolerated.

Getting strength back up is an arduous challenge. We typically begin players with progressive resistance band workouts to bolster the ligaments, in addition to single-leg balance work and proprioception.

Sports Injury Treatment in NYC

With offices in Manhattan and White Plains, the Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine treats injured athletes of all calibers, from elementary and high school through college and pro leagues. We specialize in foot and ankle injuries and are fully equipped with all the diagnostic equipment and professional board-certified staff you need to quickly and accurately assess an acute injury.

State-of-the-art healing technologies in our offices include stem cell, platelet-rich plasma, and biopuncture injection therapies, pain-mitigating lasers and ultrasound, cryotherapy, EPAT, and ultrasonic debridement. Our friendly, sympathetic team of sports medicine doctors understand a player’s desire to get back to the game sooner rather than later, so you can expect an active, productive rehabilitation and recovery. Contact us to schedule your appointment, no referral necessary.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.