To compare, according to Dr. James Andrews and his cohorts, the recovery rate for Tommy John surgery, known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, is 83% for first time patients. The average recovery time for these first timers is only 11.6 months.
For Brian Wilson, recovery could take as long as 18 months.
This is problematic. Given their experience, second-timers often rush rehab, trusting their arms, not science. Science says the rehabilitation period is slow and arduous. Of course, Wilson has experienced this already.
“The difficult thing is the monotony of all the exercises and the time it takes.” Wilson noted of his first rehab. “It’s the mental part that can be a little bit overbearing but I’ve done it before. So you know what? I’ll do it again, if that’s the case.”
Wilson’s previous experience belies the reality of rehab after a second surgery. The process is even slower, even more mentally taxing.
Doug Brocail, a 15-year veteran, didn’t touch a baseball for a year after his surgery. Then, after the initial prohibition, Brocail still took it slow. “If I felt anything, any sort of twinge in my elbow while in my throwing program, I would not throw that day.”
For Tyler Johnson, the process was even slower. Johnson, who had his arm immobilized in a sling, said that doctors would measure progress not through physical activity, but by slowly changing “the angle of the sling.”
“If you feel like you’re moving too fast, you probably are,” said Tyler Yates, who is himself recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. “If you feel like you’re moving too slow, you’re right on pace. So the slower the better.”
Such static recovery is in direct conflict with Wilson’s approach, which, as Wilson claims, is one that requires an awful lot of pushing to the limits. Having already predicted a return at the start of the 2013 season, it is clear that Wilson plans to, ah, push it, to push it real good.
Sure, pushing it might have done wonders for Salt ‘n Pepa’s career, but in the world of multiple Tommy John surgeries, it could ruin Wilson’s.