Topic: Jaylon Smith's Nerve Regeneration
Been trying to get the whole gist of Jaylon's injury and the nerve regeneration. This article seems to explain it all. No way we see him this year, just hope he gets it all back so we can finally enjoy a decent 2nd round pick!!!!
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Jaylon Smith acknowledges it’s likely he’ll sit out his rookie season in the NFL. But neither the former Notre Dame star linebacker nor the doctor who performed his knee surgery are ruling out anything days before the draft – and Smith is already doing some football drills.
“When you’re in bed for six weeks, not able to move, not able to walk, you’re this dominant force, but yet you have to rely on people to do little things for you,” Smith told USA TODAY Sports during a break between workouts Friday at AWP Sports.
“It even makes you appreciate the little things, and being back out on the field – it’s so awesome. Not a lot of people know exactly what I’m doing right now. But I’m killing it.”
Roughly 3½ months removed from surgery to reconstruct his left anterior cruciate ligament, as well as all the structures on the lateral side of his knee, Smith is past deficit work and now working on functional compensation and progressions – some of which Friday involved dropping in coverage and swatting his way past a tackling dummy while wearing an ankle foot orthosis (AFO) device that helps him pick up his left foot.
Spent the day in Fort Wayne, Ind., with @thejaylonsmith, who's 3.5 months past knee reconstruction and doing this:
A checkup by NFL teams last weekend in Indianapolis showed Smith remains unable to raise his left foot or swing it out to the side because of an issue with his peroneal nerve. But the "foot-drop" isn't a surprise at this stage, said his surgeon, Dr. Dan Cooper, who is “optimistic that his knee itself will be stable and a good knee and he’ll get all his strength back. And I also think he has a very good chance of getting his nerve recovery back.”
That’s because the lateral damage stretched Smith’s nerve “enough to make it go to sleep, but it wasn’t stretched enough to be structurally elongated or visually very damaged” like more severe injuries, Cooper told USA TODAY Sports. There’s normally a one-month lag time before the nerve regrows at all, and once it begins, the rate is only about 1 inch per month.
“He’s had time for his nerve to regrow 2 inches, and the area of where his nerve was injured is 6 inches above the muscle that it innervates,” said Cooper, who’s also the Dallas Cowboys’ head team physician. “I wouldn’t really expect him to get much innervation back into that muscle for two or three more months. Then once it does – I’ve seen kids who are completely paralyzed like him on the lateral side and not able to pick their foot up at all (that) wind up being totally normal.”
There’s no guarantee Smith’s nerve fully recovers, though. It’s luck of the draw. And there’s no way to speed up the regeneration. So, each NFL team will have to weigh the odds and decide whether to gamble – and how much to gamble – on one of the draft’s most talented players, months before it’s medically possible to have a better idea on how he’ll recover.
A good sign for Smith: He said the tingling down his leg and into his foot continues to advance, which can indicate the nerve axons are growing.
“I feel different sensations every day,” Smith said. “But it’s a thing where it’s patience, so you don’t try to hype yourself up too much.”
He’s back up to 240 pounds after weighing in at 223 at the combine, about six weeks after his Jan. 7 surgery. He said he has squatted over 500 pounds and leg pressed over 700.
Asked if he expects to play in 2016, Smith said: “I want to play. Absolutely, I want to play. I’m a competitor. (But) if I’m not 100%, I won’t be playing. That does my career no justice.”
Cooper agreed Smith probably will take a “redshirt” year in 2016, noting that once a nerve injury is discovered, it usually takes around nine to 15 months to fully recover. He also said he knows of high school and college football players who have played with a foot-drop, “and it’s even possible that Jaylon’s good enough to play in the NFL if he doesn’t get his nerve function back.
“Worst-case scenario, there are surgeries, there are tendon transfers you can do to hold the foot up,” Cooper said. “Best-case scenario is he gets all his strength back. And then in between would be that he gets a lot of it back or some of it back.”