The Physical and Emotional Burden of A Long Rehab
Over the years, I have been lucky in that I personally have never had to toil through a long rehab program. Over the years however, I have treated and have witnessed first hand the physical and emotional struggle that comes from having a long and grueling recovery ahead.
The inspiration for this post actually comes quite close to home - my brother-in-law ruptured his Achilles tendon playing basketball one evening just over a year ago. I remember him hobbling off the court towards me and said the words no physio ever likes hearing: "I felt like somebody kicked me in the back of my leg, but when I turned around to hit them back, nobody was there!"
I got him on his front to have a feel of his Achilles tendon, which quite obviously was not there - I don't think I needed to be a physio to diagnose that injury!
Chip's injury was identical in nature to Kobe Bryant's - one of the all time greats of the NBA. Below, you'll see a video which shows the injury, but above all else shows the emotional struggle Kobe goes through immediately after the game, when thinking about the road ahead of him:
NOTE: Some swearing at times in the video.
A quote from 5:45 in the video:
"I was really tired, man. Just tired in the locker room, upset and dejected and thinking about this… mountain, man, to overcome. I mean this is a long process. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But then your kids walked in and you’re like, I gotta to set an example. ‘Daddy’s going to be fine. I’m going to do it.’ I’m going to work hard and go from there."
Kobe's injury occurred on April 12th 2013 - he returned on December 8th the same year. Almost 8 months of (probably) daily rehab. Athletes over the years have described the struggle of this process.
You feel isolated from your teammates, can feel forgotten on the sidelines and if you have any setbacks, you can feel like it is all your fault and feel like a failure.
In an elite environment like the LA Lakers, Kobe would have had counselling sessions as well as a physio and a strength and conditioning coach to help him during this time. We don't all have that luxury!
In these situations, our role as physio is more than simply exercise prescription and treatment - we also take on a role as motivators and provide emotional support to the athlete.
It can be a long, gruelling road to recovery after signifcant injuries, but it is a road that with good physical rehab and mental fortitude can lead to a fitter, stronger body that does not need to struggle with lasting issues afterwards!