Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brandon Marshall...back for the Two-Minute Drill

Last time we talked to Brandon, that Olympic wrestling hopeful, he was doing rehab and hoping his ligament in his elbow would grow and get stronger without surgery.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

After a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, Brandon and his parents knew that surgery was the only way to heal the bad tear—he had to have Tommy John surgery. Dr. Andrews has done more than 2,500 of these operations with a remarkable success rate. This surgery will help stabilize his elbow, replace the ligament, and is the best option to preserve the integrity of the nerve in the process.

After his surgery in front of 
another Marshall's football jersey
An interesting fact about Dr. Andrews is that he is the first call a professional athlete makes when there is a possibility of needing surgery on their elbow, shoulder, or knee. Athletes he has operated on include golfer Jack Nicklaus (his knee in the 1980s, and, btw, Jack won a Master’s after his surgery), quarterback Drew Brees (shoulder, and yes, Drew won the Super Bowl after his surgery), quarterback Donovan McNabb (knee), pitcher John Smoltz (three shoulder surgeries), quarterback Brett Favre (shoulder, ankle), and pitcher Tim Hudson (elbow).

So, on Thursday, January 5, at Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Brandon underwent a surgery that lasted an hour and a half. It took 15 minutes to replace the ligament and his parents were allowed to be in the room taking photos of that part of the surgery (and, yes, Brandon thinks the photos are “cool”). The very next morning he was in first therapy session.

I talked to Brandon Saturday to learn more about his surgery and next steps.

PJ: How rough was the surgery?

Brandon: The only time I was down was when I first woke up. I walked everywhere and started school the following Monday. They wanted me out and moving to get it back to where it needs to be. In my first therapy session I did things to get my shoulder stronger, because I was in a sling they didn’t want that to weaken. I did wrist movements and tried to keep muscles moving so they didn’t get stiff when the cast came off. My first session was about 20 to 25 minutes.

There were a few athletes in therapy while I was there and they treated me the same, which was nice. A number of them just had surgery like me. There was a football player from Purdue, a guy from the Kansas City Chiefs, and someone from Army Flight School.

PJ: What was your next stop?
Brandon: Athletes Performance. This is a training facility that has an association with the Institute. They give you safer ways to lift and tell you what to eat to get your peak performance. They were a lot of college football players there training for the NFL combine, including a senior from Notre Dame who was a running back. And, there was someone from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings.

PJ: You are three weeks in, what’s next?
Brandon showing his Wisconsin spirit
Brandon: I was in the cast for one week and my stitches were removed last Thursday. Now, I wear a brace all the time except when I am icing my arm and taking showers. Everyone who knows me calls me Robocop because of the brace.

I am doing rehab at the nursing home where my mom works. I go three times a week. This [past] week I went Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a day in between to rest a bit.
They wanted me to have therapy, get my stitches out, do more stretching—get my arm out and moving. The goal is to move my arm all the way out and back without a lot of pain in six weeks. That’s when the doctor will check it again.
After six weeks if I can move my arm all the way out and back, then I can get rid of the brace and start a little wrestling-related work and get my strength back—not just my motion.

PJ: You’ve gone through a lot in a short time.

Brandon: Yeah…it was kind of just settling down, then it was Christmas break and we learned I had to have surgery. I had hoped I didn’t have to get it, but it was worth it.

OK…another shot at your favorite movie: I used to watch True Lies all the time.

Favorite wrestler: I admire Anthony Robles. He was the NCAA National Champion this year [going 36-0 for Arizona State University and wrestling in the 125 lb. weight class] and wrestles on one leg. Now, I can kind of understand what it feels like, although it’s really not the same thing.

Keep reading this blog for updates on Brandon and his journey.