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Darrelle Revis: When Will He Return?

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It has become apparent that star cornerback, Darrelle Revis, has been playing with a wrist injury throughout most of the season. Soon after the season ended, Revis underwent surgery to repair a torn wrist ligament; this primer will cover what his rehabilitation will look like in the upcoming months.

What is the injury?

It has been speculated that the torn wrist ligament happens to be the scapho-lunate ligament. The wrist is comprised of 8 small bones called carpals and organized into 2 rows. Two of the biggest carpals are the scaphoid (located in line with the thumb) and the lunate (located in line with the middle finger); both carpals are located in the row closed to the forearm and connected together by a ligament (connective tissue that connects two bones together). This ligament primarily acts to stabilize the scaphoid in place to appropriately use the thumb.

Given that Revis initially injured his wrist in Week 3 against the Eagles, it is difficult to note if Revis tore this ligament  that game or a minor injury turned into a major one as the season progressed. Regardless, his hand was likely extended (repetitively if it was a minor injury initially) to the point where there too much pressure caused the ligament tear (think of falling down and using your hands to brace yourself).

How is the ligament repaired?

Pins are inserted through the bones to fixate the unstable bones (due to the ligament tear) and the wrist/hand will be subsequently be casted for 2-3 months to assure the ligament will heal properly. From there, about 6-8 weeks of physical therapy is required to complete the recovery. Revis had the surgery on March 17 and should be out of the cast at the beginning of May.

What will happen in physical therapy?

Immobilization through a cast causes joints to become stiff which in turn makes the muscles around it tight. Physical therapy will consist of regaining the joint mobility in all of the joints that make up the wrist/hand; in addition, stretches will be added to make sure the wrist flexors and extensors loosen up as those muscles cross the wrist and insert in the hand. As joint mobility and muscle flexibility improves, exercises will be added to improve strength, particularly for grip.

Known for his physical presence at the line of scrimmage, Revis uses his hands a lot to disrupt wide receivers' routes as well as swatting or intercepting the ball. Overall, Revis should be fully healed in time for training camp in August, perhaps even for OTAs barring any setbacks.