By: Sports PT Clinical Team
Big college football news . . . Syracuse University quarterback Terrel Hunt tore his Achilles tendon during Friday’s game against Rhode Island. Terrel stepped awkwardly while running upfield and ruptured his tendon. Unfortunately, an injury of this magnitude takes Terrel out of the game for the remainder of the season. It typically takes a minimum of 6 months before an athlete can return to sport after an Achilles tendon rupture. Why? To answer that, let’s take a closer look at what makes the Achilles tendon integral to sports performance and why proper rehabilitation after injury is so important.
What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is a VERY strong tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel. It helps us to rise up on our toes and is critical for power and speed during running and walking.
What is the rehabilitative process after injury?
With a rupture, surgery is performed. The athlete is typically placed in a hard cast and immobilized for two to four weeks.
After the two to four weeks, a removable boot is placed for 12 weeks. Motion is limited and the athlete is on crutches for a good amount of those 12 weeks.
What does rehab focus on?
First, the athlete will rehab for a VERY conservative eight to ten weeks to protect the graft.
Then PTs will work on progressive weight bearing with flexibility.
And eventually rehab will include progressive strength training.
PTs will also massage the scar tissue of the Achilles tendon.
Then the athlete will progress to “eccentric exercises” to help with speed, power, and agility.
Sports-specific training is started after an athlete has regained full motion and is walking without a limp. The entire process, from surgery to the completion of rehabilitation, lasts for about six months. Our best wishes to Terrel in his recovery! Go SU!