Jim Osborne got Colts nation in a bit of an uproar on Twitter regarding the status of Andrew Luck’s healing shoulder.
Luck was to see an ortho surgeon at Ohio State today for a consult. Second opinions, 7 months after procedure & out of state. No bueno.— Jim Osborne (@jimosborne45) July 18, 2017
No offense to Mr. Osborne, but jumping to conclusions on the basis of a potential consult with a surgeon in Ohio — even if a second opinion — is likewise “no bueno.”
The reality is that healing process for surgical procedures that like the one that Luck had over the off-season are somewhat unpredictable. If you want to rely on legitimate information from those who have the medical knowledge that one might find useful when making bold assertions about the rumored visit of a world class athlete to a surgeon during the healing process (unheard of I know), you would be better served by listening to the Stampede Blue Colts Cast podcast featuring Dr. Jene Bramel.
In pertinent part, Dr. Bramel explains how the recovery of the cartilage in Luck’s shoulder is difficult to project from a healing process because cartilage does not get steady blood-flow and because the level of “healing” that occurs is somewhat up to interpretation. Only time will ultimately increase the likelihood that Luck will not suffer any setbacks in the healing process and so — consistent with the Colts approach up to this point — it shouldn’t be overly surprising that the team would make all efforts to confirm that he is in an optimal position to resume throwing before they throw him out on a football field or make final preparations for their training camp schedule.
The labrum is cartilage around the shoulder joint itself. To repair that they have to anchor the cartilage back down with stitches and the blood supply to cartilage is not great so the healing is a bit unpredictable. I think there is good reason to believe that the Colts are just taking a little bit of extra time knowing... that should he experience a setback because they release him to throw just a little bit early that the setback could cost them a little bit more... in terms of weeks to months... so I think that is why you are seeing caution there.
Again, the reality here is that Luck isn’t on a timetable because attempting to set one would be to make something up. The only way for Luck to know when he is ready to return to practice and get back into a throwing program is to patiently and diligently continue his rehab and — at some point — get clearance to resume throwing. After all of this patience, you can bet the Colts will absolutely seek second opinions whether the news received from the doctor is positive and indicates that he can return to throwing or if the news is either negative or unclear.
Remember that recently, Will Carroll indicated that, in fact, Andrew Luck likely could throw now if he and the team chose to make that decision. Dr. Bramel also provided his thoughts on Caroll’s tweet and whether there was truth to his assertions.
Will is well-connected there in Indianapolis, whether he has a source that has told him that Luck has progressed far enough in rehab to allow him to be able to throw and they’re just being cautious or whether or not that is just Will’s speculation — my guess is that it may be a mix of both.
Generally, labral recoveries, if you look at the rehab protocols, some players can be released to throw as soon as twelve weeks to four months after the injury, some are at the five and sixth month window. We’re getting kind of close to the six month window with Luck. My feeling, just based on the fact that they released Luck to speak to the media at all, is that he probably could be cleared to throw already but there is no sense to bring him back a day early than they feel like they need to... to run the risk that there is a little bit of a setback, that there is any kind of inflammation that would set his throwing program back a couple of week to where instead of maybe not having 100% arm strength for week 1, maybe he is not available for a month into the season just based on pushing things a little bit.
So I think that they have a pretty good sense of exactly how many days Luck needs to build up enough arm strength to be ready for week 1. Even if that is not 100%, he has not been playing at 100% for two years so I think that’s where they are and I think Will’s tweet probably lends a little credence to that too but until we see them officially clear him to throw, I don’t know that we can say with certainty that he could be throwing today if they just allowed him to.
When you take Dr. Bramel’s medical knowledge into consideration, along with what has been more commonly and rationally explained about these kinds of procedures throughout the media for much of the summer, it sheds a great deal of light on the idea that tweets like Mr. Osborne’s should be a taken with a grain of salt. The healing process for Luck’s surgery is not one that can be dictated on a rigid timeline by the Colts organization, doctors and surgeons, or Luck himself. The only way to handle the situation rationally, is to act as the team has been acting thus far.
The team has no intention of rushing him back to the field or into a throwing regimen until they are comfortable that they are doing so with the least amount of risk to Luck’s long-term health and with the least amount of risk to the 2017 NFL season as possible.
It is also worth noting that, on the same day as Mr. Osborne’s tweet, the Indy Star’s Zak Keefer connected with an NFL source who stated that Luck’s should situation was “status quo.”
Colts fans have every reason to be uncomfortable until Luck is officially and publicly released to start a throwing program. But until then, I wouldn’t get too tied up in rumors on Twitter without some legitimate information to support the jump from — “maybe Luck is seeing a surgeon in Ohio today” to “if he is seeing a doctor in Ohio today it is no bueno.”