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In the Training Room: Colts Wide Receiver Austin  Collie

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
It was reported today that Austin Collie underwent thumb surgery, and there is no established time frame for his return.  In watching the game highlights on NFL.com, I thought I pegged the time of his injury at his touchdown catch.  He adjusts his gloves immediately following the catch, and pulls at his thumb a bit.  But he returned to the game to catch three more passes for 40 yards, so it’s unlikely that he was injured before then.  No information has been released in terms of the exact nature of the injury, but two possibilities include broken thumb or a Grade 3 thumb sprain.

Broken thumb: Two bones comprise the thumb.  A break can occur along either of the bones, at the joint between the two bones, or between the thumb and hand.  A break in the middle of either bone would likely be addressed by a cast, but would not necessarily require surgery.  By contrast, a break at a joint would likely require surgery.  Collie could have sustained a broken thumb when Manning engaged his laser rocket arm to throw a pass, and Collie caught it in such a way that the top part of his thumb bent backwards.  A cast to repair a broken thumb would be worn for anywhere from two to six weeks, with physical therapy starting thereafter to strengthen the joint and regain mobility.  For the non-athlete, full recovery can take up to three months. Sprained thumb: The thumb’s primary ligament, the ulnar collateral ligament, is located at the base of the thumb and controls the grasping motion.  Damage to that ligament, usually by bending the thumb backwards at the palm beyond the ligament’s normal limit, is called a sprain.  As with other sprains, a Grade 1 sprain denotes stretching but no tears, Grade 2 partial tears, and Grade 3 complete tears.  Grade 1 and 2 sprains typically heal without surgery, so the fact that Collie had surgery indicates that – if the injury was to the ligament and not the bone – it was a Grade 3 sprain.  Recovery from ligament repair surgery can be six to eight weeks for the non-athlete. Outlook: A source “with knowledge of the situation” has told Jason La Canfora that Collie will be out at least two weeks.  This is more consistent with the possibility of a broken thumb and its shorter recovery period.  However, we don’t yet know whether we’re really talking about just two to three weeks or much longer.