When Brandon Brooks went down with a torn Achilles in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints, there was some doubt if he’d be healthy enough to play at the start of the 2019 season.
Four weeks into the season, not only is Brooks on the field, but he’s been one of the leagues best lineman to this point.

A torn Achilles is one of the most difficult injuries an athlete can suffer. Some of the best athletes the world has ever seen has suffered the injury — from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant, to Dez Bryant — and each time a player goes down with it, their entire career comes into question.

A sports medicine study from March investigated 80 players that suffered a torn Achilles, and the numbers are pretty troubling. 29 of the players never returned to play, 51 players returned just short of a full year post-injury, and for 95% of the cases, the shortest return time was approximately 11 months. Considering the nature of the injury and what both go into the surgery and the rehab from it, the situation seems that much more daunting.

The Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in the human body and is the tissue that connects the calf to the rest of the lower part of the leg. When the Achilles is ruptured, almost all activity becomes impossible due to the importance of the tendon.

In surgery, the tendon is repaired using sutures — which differs from ACL reconstruction, where the ligament is replaced — making the recovery difficult in the first place. Since the tendon is repaired, re-rupture is already at risk due to the lack of strength in the region. During post-operation rehabilitation, there is typically three phases to go through, though every surgeon has their own specific preference.

Phase I 

The protective state in an effort to keep the operated area safe. The goal here is to minimize scar adhesion, or bands of tissue that develop, to work on relieving stiffness, and attempting to attain full weight-bearing ability. Given the nature of the Achilles and the pain that comes with it the injury, it can often be difficult to regain ability to bear weight on the area right away. In total, this phase typically lasts around three weeks.

Phase II

Where physical therapy really starts to take place. Patients are hoped to have full ankle range of motion, be close to full strength in the area operated on, and to have equal proprioceptive reactions between the operated side and the non-operated side. This phase lasts the six-week mark post-operation.

Phase III

The final phase but ultimately most difficult, because this is where full health is hoped to be obtained. Running programs begin, balance is hoped to be improved, the velocity of activity is increased, and finally, an eventual return to sport becomes the last goal. This portion is where it’s hard to put a timetable on due to the inconsistencies in how everyone recovers, but safe return to sport can take anywhere from 9 months to a full year.

For Brooks, however, he returned to sport under a shocking 8 months, and practiced weeks before that. His accomplishment of just getting onto the field in that little amount of time is unprecedented, and quite honestly not encouraged within the medical field, but given the type of player he is, it’s not all that surprising.

Ever since joining the Eagles in 2016, Brooks has done everything. He was voted to the Pro Bowl twice (2017, 2018), has been graded consistently as one of the leagues premier offensive lineman, and in the 2017-18 season, was a Super Bowl champion with the team. However, his ability to return from such a devastating injury in record-breaking time maybe Brooks’ greatest accomplishment.

It’s not easy to stay hungry when going through the rehab, either. For those who have experienced any type of injury and had to undergo surgery, the rehabilitation at times can be even more difficult and more painful than suffering the injury in the first place. However, with Brooks, it was clear he not only got through it, but he strived in it.

What’s even crazier, though, is the fact that Brooks not only seems like he hasn’t lost a step — he looks like he’s even better now.

Through the first four weeks of the season, Brooks is graded as ProFootballFocus’s top right guard and hasn’t allowed a single quarterback hurry or sack. During the offseason, some worried about the Eagles’ offensive line depth and how they’d hold up if Brooks wasn’t active for week 1.

Instead, during a time when injuries continue to strike the Eagles, Brooks has been one of the solidities for the team. Over the past few years, many players on the team have developed their own comeback story from injury, but none are as impressive as Brooks’.

Awards aren’t handed out this early in the season, but it’d be hard to say Brooks isn’t one of the favorites to win Comeback Player of the Year for this season.
As the Eagles continue pushing along to win games to get into the playoffs, Brooks will continue defying the odds every time he steps on the field.

Featured Image: 
Comments are closed.

Check Also

All Around Depth? Positions The Eagles Went All In On

The Eagles have gone all out this off-season in acquiring talent for nearly every position…