Despite suffering a leg injury in November of 2018 that has, to date, required 17 surgeries, Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith is still hopeful that he will play in the NFL again. Part of that hope comes from the fact that Smith was given clearance to rehab at a military facility that specializes in combat injuries, according to The Washington Post.
While Smith’s injury took place in a game against the Houston Texans, the state of his leg left it resembling a war wound, consistent with those suffered from blasts. That’s how Smith ended up receiving a consultation at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, which focuses on rehabilitating combat veterans but which made an exception for the quarterback, the first athlete to receive that, according to Johnny Owens, a physical therapist who worked at the facility until 2017:
Athletes don’t have warlike injuries like Alex had. We’ve had movie stars and rock stars and politicians come by to say hi to service members, but we never had a VIP-type person come walk into the center with an injury that looks the same as what these guys and girls had.
Owens helped place Smith in the facility, where he rehabbed using a technique, developed by the therapist, called “blood flow restriction therapy,” which involves exercising with no weights. Alongside the 17 surgeries, rehabbing at the Center for the Intrepid has helped Smith get back to a point where he could conceivably return to the NFL, according to Owens, who does still have concerns about Smith’s mobility:
To do what a quarterback is supposed to do — drop back, throw or hand the ball off — I think he’s there. […] The wild card right now is, when J.J. [Watt] comes running at you again, do you have that first-step acceleration and the ability to cut?
Smith has not ruled out returning to the NFL, though given the heavy level of work on his leg, perhaps he should consider himself lucky that he’s able to move at anything resembling his old self.
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