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Dr. Blue's Health of the Franchise: Gonzalez

I really wanted the Dr. Blue series to be quiet this year, but the reality of the NFL is otherwise.  Remember, I am NOT a doctor.  These articles are based on my ability to find, read and interpret information on-line.

Anthony Gonzalez, WR
Date of Injury:
September 12, 2010
Nature of Injury: High ankle sprain
Typical Rehab Process/Duration: Depends on severity; could be a few weeks to several months.
Players who have suffered similar injuries: Bob Sanders, Max Starks, Michael Turner

Luckily or unluckily, I was able to dust off my very first Dr. Blue FanPost to find information on high ankle sprains.  A high ankle sprain injures the ligament above the ankle that joins together the tibia and fibula in the lower leg.  It occurs when that ligament is stretched or torn.  Recovery from this injury depends (naturally) on the severity of the damage.

If the damage is minimal, and the patient's lower leg bones are stable, the patient can wear a simple cast for a few weeks while the ligament repairs itself.  If the lower leg bones are found to be moving around more than they should, surgery may be indicated to essentially fasten the leg bones in proper place while the ligament heals.  If surgery is required, the patient may have to wait 3 months before starting rehab, and another several months of rehab thereafter, up to 6 months for the non-athlete.

Most of us are familiar with ankle sprains where your foot "rolls up" and inward - this is called a lateral ankle sprain, and is a common basketball injury.  A lateral sprain was what Dwight Freeney suffered in last year's AFCCG game against the Jets.  By contrast, high ankle sprains are caused when a foot is forced to rotate outwards.

According to Dr. Chris Chiodo of Massachusetts (thank you, TheAngelsColts),

High ankle sprains are usually more severe injuries than lateral ankle sprains, and patients are often unable to bear weight on the injured extremity.  [They] should be treated differently than lateral ankle sprains and can take twice as long to heal.

I strongly recommend reading Dr. Chiodo's write-up on high ankle sprains, as he offers much more technical detail and treatment approach.

The Colts have not published the severity of Gonzo's sprain, and it's unclear whether the shot we saw on TV of him talking to trainers took place before or after he sustained the injury.  If it was after, we might take some solace in the fact that Gonzo looked able to walk around, and the severity might not be as bad as it could be.  Still, we already know that Gonzo was ruled out for Week 2, and it is unrealistic to expect him back until at the absolute earliest, Week 4 (@ Jacksonville).

Assuming the coaching staff continue their conservative approach with injuries, and given Gonzo's injury history, it is not unreasonable to expect the staff to keep him sidelined an additional week or two.  I agree with BBS that this points to after the bye week.

Dr. Blue's Prognosis - Likely Week 8 Appearance: Medium