Kicker Loses Shot at Jets But Is Determined to Maintain Torn Achilles Heel Recovery Timeline
Posted by Jenn F. on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016
At just twenty-three years old, kicker Kyle Brindza has already had a diverse career in football. First, he played placekicker for Notre Dame. After his college career, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions in May 2015 but was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in August 2015. After missing some crucial field goal attempts, the Bucs let him go in October. So when he signed with the New York Jets in early February, it looked like the big break and second chance he had been waiting for. However, just weeks later, a torn Achilles during a workout prompted the announcement that he had been waived.
Kyle Brindza Born with Foot Birth Defect
NFL newcomer Kyle Brindza is no stranger to foot casts and braces. According to the Tampa Bay Times, he was born with a clubfoot. About 1 in 1,000 babies are born with their feet turned inward, requiring corrective devices and physical therapy at the very least. In Brindza’s case, six corrective surgeries were necessary and doctors said he may never play sports. His last surgery involved the cutting of his right Achilles in sixth grade. Brindza defied all odds and participated in youth soccer and football, eventually making it to college on a football scholarship. There, he was responsible for a field goal win in triple overtime against Pittsburgh, a winning field goal kick against Purdue with seven seconds left in the game, and five field goals in a win against Southern California.
For the Achilles, Attitude is Key to a Successful Recovery
According to Newsday, Brindza isn’t worried about his future in the NFL. He put up post-surgery photos from his Ann Arbor, Michigan, hospital bed on Instagram and wrote, “As cliché as it sounds . . . a minor setback for a major come back. I have worked my tail off to get another shot and I got it, but now I have to take a step back. I ruptured my Achilles completely during my kicking workout. I’m not mad. I’m not upset. Unfortunate? Yes. I know God has a plan and I have to trust it.” This attitude is a great one to have because the recovery to follow can be quite arduous. Here’s a look at the process:
Torn Achilles Surgery Recovery Timeline
Achilles rupture surgery requires a lengthy recovery that will likely take a good year. While every patient and every injury follows a unique path to recovery, here’s a sample timeline so you can generally know what to expect:
Stage 1: Early Rehabilitation
Weeks 0-2: Cast and crutches are used; patients are instructed to keep the foot elevated, perform range of motion therapy, and perform only non-weight-bearing movements. A consultation will then be required, where we look at the wound and transition you to a boot. Patients are usually relieved because this removable boot means showers are possible again! The boot is usually fitted with wedges to maintain a certain angle and keep pressure off the injury. These wedges will be modified over the course of rehab.
Stage 2: Moderate Rehabilitation
Weeks 2-8: Boots and crutches are used; patients begin bearing weight if they can tolerate it. Gentle plantar flexion exercises are recommended in therapy. Dorsiflexion is avoided. The wedges are adjusted and removed. We aim for inversion/eversion ankle movement. Upper body strength training helps patients feel productive. Goals of physiotherapy are to keep the upper leg from wasting and prevent the ankle from stiffening. Massage is a great complementary therapy at this point. Toward the end of this stage, swimming will be allowed.
Stage 3: Active Recovery
Weeks 8-12: You should be into a sneaker with heel inserts by now and hobbling around crutch-free. Therapy takes you through active and passive plantarflexion and dorsiflexion, as well as inversion/eversion ankle exercises. Static biking and swimming are done regularly. Tendon and calf stretches are done daily.
Stage 4: Return to Sports
Weeks 12-24: You’ll continue recovery in sneakers with heel inserts. Therapy goals include returning to full range of motion through plyometrics, leg raises, jogging, and increased dorsiflexion exercises on top of everything else you’ve been doing. Toward the end of this period, we’ll work on getting you back to the sports you love.
Stage 5: Ongoing Physiotherapy
Weeks 25-54: For the rest of the year, most patients continue to come in for therapy, although some choose to go it alone at home and hope for the best. Usually, custom orthotics are used as a preventative measure to avoid stressing the repaired tendon and re-rupturing. NSAIDs and ice are occasionally used for residual pain. Patients who are slow to heal visit us for platelet rich plasma injections or mild shockwave therapy to stimulate their natural healing mechanisms.
Achilles Surgery and Rehabilitation in NYC
For more information on Achilles tendon repair and rehabilitation, contact us at our sports medicine offices in Manhattan or Westchester. Our team of board-certified podiatrists, podiatric surgeons, and sports doctors would love to help guide you through a successful surgery and recovery. Whenever possible, we use the latest technology to repair your injury, rather than sending you through surgery.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. 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.