The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

MLB News: St. Louis Cardinals Take A Gamble On Rookie With Achilles Rupture

Posted by on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

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The Achilles tendon is a terrible body part to rupture, with many players never returning to full strength after such an injury; but that didn’t stop the St. Louis Cardinals from taking a gamble on Kep Brown, who St. Louis Today describes as “a 6-foot-5, 210-pound power high school hitter from Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, S.C.” At the time of his injury, he was batting .517 and was considered a first to third-round pick.

Though Brown tore his left Achilles tendon in the 13th game this season, scouting director Chris Correa says it’s worth the risk. “He’s big and strong, and he might have the most power of anyone we drafted in this class,” said Correa. “I don’t think there are a lot of guys with more power potential in this draft than Kep Brown,” he added.

achilles rupture surgery
Next season, Cardinals fans will assemble at Busch Stadium to see how well the new rookie plays after Achilles rupture surgery. Image Source: Wikimedia.org

The Cardinals are no stranger to Achilles ruptures; they lost starting pitcher Adam Wainwright with an Achilles tendon injury on April 25th. Wainwright underwent surgery to repair the torn tendon, which fortunately, went without a hitch. The ends of a torn tendon look like the strands of a mop and sometimes do not align perfectly, and additional materials are needed to attach the pieces together. This was not the case for Wainwright, who is expected to recover in nine to 12 months, just in time for 2016 spring training camp.

What Happened To Kep Brown?

The Post and Courier has kind words to say about the young Kep Brown. “The Wando High School outfielder, big and strong at 6-5 and 200 pounds, had burst on to the national scene last summer, slugging baseballs over fences at national showcase events to make himself one of the most highly rated high school hitters in the country,” they report. In his final high school season up until his injury, he had hit six doubles, a triple, and two home runs and maintained a 1.000 slugging percentage. “He was going to have a special season,” said coach Dirk Thomas.

Brown, playing right field at the time, leaped into the air to give an enthusiastic fist-pump celebrating a spectacular catch by teammate Harrison Smith. Upon landing, he immediately knew something was wrong. “I felt it pop,” Brown told The Post and Courier. “I bent over like I was tying my shoes and felt it. I knew something was wrong.” Angered by what had happened, he uttered some choice words and threw his baseball equipment in disappointment and disgust. It seemed he had not only let his team down, but hurt his draft prospects as well.

Yet, Brown’s coach said he has displayed tremendous grace and maturity throughout his recovery. “My tendon is still tight and will be for a while,” Brown admitted. “But the best part of my day is going to rehab and getting it loose and getting it worked out. The doctors and people at physical therapy are amazed at my progress.”

How Are Achilles Tendon Ruptures Treated?

In the past, there was much more ambiguity about how to treat a ruptured Achilles. Conservative treatment using non-weight-bearing casts followed by physical therapy used to be the standard protocol. Now we know that, for dynamic athletes with advanced or complete tears, the best course of action is surgical intervention. Surgery is associated with a lower rate of re-rupture, according to Lower Extremity Review MagazineResearch shows that early range-of-motion exercise prove especially beneficial for regaining mobility and strength to return to competition as soon as possible.

The usual duration of recovery is a minimum of six months, with a year the most likely timetable. The initial period of “taking it easy” typically stretches for a solid four months. Anti-inflammatory medication, massage, and gentle stretching can be employed during this time. Later, low-impact exercise like swimming and walking with an orthotic insert can be done to maintain some level of physical fitness. Finally, a physical therapy program of strength-training, stretching and flexibility exercises helps the player develop full functionality again.

NYC Achilles Tendon Injury Rehabilitation

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC treats baseball players and other athletes with Achilles tendon injuries using all the latest techniques geared toward a successful recovery. We employ experienced board-certified podiatric surgeons with extensive experience in Achilles tendon reconstruction, as well as a full team of physical therapists who guide athletes through recovery. When necessary, we offer complementary therapies like extracorporeal shockwave therapy, MLS pain lasers, and platelet-rich plasma injections, which reduce discomfort and facilitate natural healing mechanisms. Contact us for more information.

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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.