Barlow back in 10 weeks
FIRST year AFL sensation Michael Barlow could make a miraculous recovery from a horrifically broken leg with a morale boosting comeback during Fremantle’s finals series in September.
A leading medical practitioner and experienced sports medicine doctor has predicted that Barlow could even be ready to make a stunning return to playing when the Dockers head into this year’s finals.
Barlow could recover enough to at least train with his Dockers teammates during their finals campaign and certainly be back into full swing when pre-season training starts in November.
He is expected to target a full recovery over summer and be available for NAB Cup series matches in February and back leading Fremantle’s midfield in opening premiership games next season.
Early prophecies of doom and gloom from around Australia had the first year revelation written off for at least 12 months and possibly even to miss the 2011 season.
His surgery was performed by top surgeon Mike Wren in St John of God’s Hospital in Perth with conservative projections of full training in 12 weeks.
Barlow’s severely broken left leg was fractured and consequently surgically repaired in such a way that he could be walking with days and running again just six weeks after his sickening collision.
His stunning 2010 season came to a sickening end in the dying minutes of Fremantle’s 10th win of the season in a 57-point trouncing of Port Adelaide in Perth in Round 14.
Top physician, former football club doctor and state cricket team head doctor and leading infectious diseases authority Clay Golledge predicts Barlow’s recovery to be swift.
“He may be up running within six to eight weeks and theoretically, he might be able to play a game in 10 weeks,” Golledge said.
“That would be the best case scenario obviously. But you wouldn’t rule that out.”
Barlow’s injury is significantly different to the high profile broken leg that former Richmond and all-Australian forward Nathan Brown suffered against Melbourne in May of 2005.
Brown suffered serious muscle and soft tissue damage when his lower right was shattered with Demons opponent Matthew Whelan falling across him in a smothering attempt.
Golledge was team doctor with Brisbane rugby league club Southern Suburbs in the early 1980s where playing legend and reigning Queensland state-of-origin coach Mal Meninga played.
Golledge was also team doctor with Claremont in the WAFL competition from 1984-89 and the WA cricket team through to the mid-1990s in Perth.
He says Barlow’s strong hopes of a speedy recovery, despite forecasts from around the nation that the tough follower could be sidelined for up to two years, surrounds the nature of the break he suffered in the tibia and fibula bones in his lower leg.
Barlow suffered what medicos consider a “clean break” with no collateral damage to his blood-bearing arteries and veins.
He also suffered minimal or no muscle damage that would take longer to heal as well as greater risk of infection, according to Golledge.
Barlow stormed onto the AFL scene this season to average 28 possessions a week in his first 12 games after he was a shock rookie draft selection by Fremantle and emerged as a genuine contender to win the coveted Brownlow Medal.
He now has a metal plate across screwed around his shattered bones just below his left knee.
Remarkably, Barlow could be walking within days of the intricate surgery to repair is legs and his blossoming AFL career.
“With the type of plate that he has got, which is called a locking plate, he will be starting to weight bear very soon,” said Golledge.
“If all goes well with his rehabilitation and he doesn’t have any severe structural damage like bad ligament damage or problems with his arteries or veins and muscles in his legs, he could be back running in six to eight weeks.
“If he has a great rehabilitation, he could even play in 10 weeks.”
Golledge believes Barlow’s surgery has been an outstanding success, which also prompts raised hopes of a sooner than initially speculated recovery and return to training and playing.
“His bone structure is beautifully repositioned,” he said.
“It is a fairly clean break and was able to be a completely anatomically reproduced, with the type of plate they have used on his leg to put it right back together again.
“It’s not like his leg is lots of different fragments.
“It was able to be put back together quite easily.”