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Dr. Rand McClain, Chief Medical Officer at LCR Health in Los Angeles, gives his medical opinion on Tiger Woods’ injuries sustained from a car accident on Tuesday, as well as, his expected recovery time for the 15-time major winner.
DR. RAND MCCLAIN: My name is Dr. Rand McClain. I'm a doctor of regenerative and sports medicine. I'm the Chief Medical Officer of LCR Health.
So I've been asked to give you a little bit of what I know about what has been reported about Tiger Woods. I'm not his physician, but I can tell you that what has happened to him is not the best of circumstances by any stretch. In other words, of all the types of fractures, his is probably the worst.
He has a comminuted fracture which means that the bone has been broken up into many pieces. And these are the most difficult to put together. It's not only comminuted, but it's also what we call an open fracture. Some refer to it as a compound fracture, where the bones, pieces the bones have actually broken through the skin. So not only do you have risk of infection when it breaks the skin, but you have risk of damage to vasculature and the muscles.
So this is not the best of scenarios. That being said, you've got a guy who has got a track history that's pretty doggone good. He's relatively young. He's got the right mindset, which is one of the most important things in a comeback like this. And he's in great care. He's in a great position to come back.
The surgeons performed pretty quickly, which is a good sign. It means, likely, that there wasn't a whole lot of damage outside of the fracture to the bones. In other words, the vasculature, the muscle, issues I was referring to are probably not extensive. It's probably just a matter of piecing the bones back together in an alignment so they can heal together.
This is not going to be a weeks type of healing process. It's going to be a months type of thing. I don't think it's going to be years. And I would argue that if he is intent on making a comeback, that would be ideal for his rehabilitation. There is a really good chance that he can come back, let's not say 100%, because that can be tricky, but equivalent to where he was before as long as things go as planned.
One of the biggest difficulties in the short term is actually the risk of an infection because of what I mentioned earlier. When you have this breaking through the skin, that part wasn't performed in a surgical suite that's sterile. Before they got to that part, there was a lot of chance for bacteria to get in there.
And the way they've fixed-- and actually the medical term is fixated-- the bones using rods, screws, and plates, it gives the bacteria a better chance to beat the antibiotics that they've surely given them by now and will continue to give them until they're absolutely certain there is no risk of infection. I'm sure they'll be very careful about the decisions they make and they'll be very aggressive with the treatments they use to fight the infection. And again, I think, from a physiological standpoint, he's got a great chance, and from a mental standpoint, even more so, because he's Tiger.