There is much yet unknown about how Posey will recover from his broken fibula. In an interview with Bay Area Sports Guy, Posey, himself, confessed that he hasn’t been “catching pens.” Instead, he’s been relegated to squatting. And, even with the squats, which are obviously less strenuous than three hours in a crouched position, he acknowledged the likelihood of “aches,” noting that “it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get through that.”
Luckily, Posey’s injury wasn’t as severe as it could have been (See: Drew, Stephen). But, Posey’s injury, as reported by SBN Bay Area’s David Fucillo, did require “two screws inserted into his left leg to reposition and repair the ankle ligaments.” Though no plate was needed (this would have been exceedingly bad), such a surgical procedure (known as “internal fixation”) poses a serious threat to Posey’s career.
That, of course, leads me to some sobering findings. According to a study, by Nicholas Lash, Geoffery Horn, Jann Fieldman and Peter Devane of the Department of Surgery at the Wellington School of Medicine, fracture patients “treated with cast application achieve better ankle function than patients who are treated with open-reduction and internal fixation.” Of course, as previously stated, Posey’s injury required fixation screws, which could severely limit the functionality of the injured leg.
In determining functionality, the Olerud–Molander ankle (OMA) score is used. The OMA is based on nine different items: pain, stiffness, swelling, stair climbing, running, jumping, squatting, supports, and activities of daily living. According to the OMA, a score of 0–30 rendered a ‘poor’ result, 31–60 a ‘fair’ result, 61–90 a ‘good’ result, and scores of 91–100 an ‘excellent’ result.
In general, subjects who had required surgical intervention, like Posey, reported their functionality to be a 77. Those who were able to have their fracture treated only with a cast reported theirs to be 88. Aside from the post-fracture treatment, the severity of the fracture negatively impacts the patient’s quality of life following therapy (this is somewhat intuitive). Posey’s fracture, as far as I can tell, is a Weber-C Fracture, which is the most severe of its type (Drew’s was a spiral fracture). Those with a Weber-C fracture reported that their functionality was only at a 69. Though we are dealing with gradations of the term “good,” this is significant decrease in functionality, especially given Posey’s position.
In all, Lash et al found that “after 2 years patients still perceive that their ankle is less functional despite achieving good results from outcome scores.” A similar study to that of Lash et al, entitled Five-year functional outcome analysis of ankle fracture fixation (link is to abstract, which contains relevant info), found that “39% [of subjects] still thought that they had not fully recovered and 38% did not return to their pre-injury sporting activity.”
Posey has already stated that his ankle has “progressively gotten better and better,” and that his range is “almost 100 percent.” Nevertheless, the true test has yet to come. Specifically, late in games, when his legs are tired, how will he deal with the soreness? With the fatigue? How will his legs respond?
Some players are never again the same:
01. Bobby Thomson
A Giants legend, Thomson would fracture his ankle in 1954 while playing with the Milwaukee Braves. Thompson would play until 1960, but would never return to pre-injury form.
02. Bobby Valentine
Valentine fractured his leg while lunging at a fly ball. Unfortunately, despite being in a cast for five months, the bone did not heal properly. Though he would play until 1973, the broken leg effectively ended his career.
03. Robin Ventura
In 1997, Ventura broke his right ankle while sliding into home plate. He would play until 2003 when arthritis in his right ankle forced him to retire. In 2005, he received an ankle transplant, and has been pain free since.
04. Matt Williams
Former Giant Williams broke his ankle in 2002 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would return in 2003 only to play in 44 games. He retired after the season.
05. Kendry Morales
Morales has yet to play in a game since fracturing his ankle in 2010 after landing awkwardly on home plate following a celebratory jump.
To keep from further depressing the audience, it is worth noting that many players recover to their pre-injury form. Click here to see who still had successful careers despite suffering horrible leg fractures. Spoiler Alert: there is one catcher who would go on to have a pretty good career.