Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks loves to make an exit from a game lately. In the NFC Championship his “spirited” celebration during his postgame interview made him a household name in the weeks preceding Superbowl 2014. Unfortunately for Sherman, his injury in the final quarter of Superbowl XLVIII won’t blow over like his controversial interview a few weeks earlier.
In the final quarter of play, Sherman suffered an ankle injury that did not allow him to continue play and he was carted off the field for further evaluation. Once further evaluation can be performed by team physicians, the rehabilitation begins and length of rehab and ability to return to next season at full strength depends on the severity of his injury, which is likely an ankle sprain.
Ankle sprains are graded as either a grade one, two or three sprain. Grade of sprain determines treatment and gives indication on length of recovery.
- Grade one – these sprains involve a stretching of the ankle ligaments, usually on the outside of ankle but not not include a tear of the affected tissue. Injuries like these typically do not result in long term injury or instability.
- Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE therapy).
- Protective walking boot or brace allows for healing and resting of damaged ligaments
- Total recovery takes about 3 weeks to return to full activity
- Grade two – these sprains are more severe and involve a partial tearing of the affected ligaments. Even with appropriate care some long term instability and risk for injury may persist.
- RICE therapy
- Protective walking boot or brace
- Physical therapy to reduce swelling, reduce pain, and maintain/improve strength from immobilization
- Recovery typically takes 4-6 weeks
- In rare cases surgery may be recovered if conservative care fails
- Grade three – this is the most severe sprain and involves complete tear of ankle ligaments
- RICE therapy
- Protective boot or cast
- Immobilization in boot for at least three weeks to allow ligament to heal in its anatomic position
- Immobilization is followed by physical therapy
- Often, especially in pro athletes, surgery is often performed to expedite the healing process and prevent prolonged recovery if condition does not heal with conservative care.
- Recovery takes approximately 12 weeks, sometimes longer for more severe injuries
- Full recovery can take 6 month or longer is more severe injuries.
For Sherman, his injury will likely have no bearing on his ability to continue to be a dominant player next season, as he was seen standing without obvious discomfort at the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy. Congratulations Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks, Superbowl XLVIII champions.