- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

In his 37th season on the Washington Redskins’ medical staff, Bubba Tyer witnessed a new injury Sunday night/Monday morning, one that had defensive end Jason Taylor worried about his playing future.

But Taylor is on the mend after doctors made a 6-inch incision on the outside of his left calf to drain blood that put pressure on a nerve, an injury called compartment syndrome.

The injury occurs after blunt trauma and blood buildup inside the muscle puts stress on the nerve. If not corrected quickly, the nerve could have suffered permanent damage.

Taylor underwent the 20-minute procedure about 6 a.m. Monday and was showing improvement Wednesday, according to Tyer, the Redskins’ director of sports medicine.

The former NFL defensive player of the year is out for Sunday’s game at Dallas. Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher had the NFL’s last documented case of compartmental syndrome in 2004. The rare injury forced him to miss two games.

“I want to play as soon as I can,” said Taylor, whose streak of 133 consecutive starts will end. “I’ve asked everybody, but nobody knows when the body will respond. It could be a week. It could be a couple months. You never know.”

Tyer detailed Taylor’s injury after practice Wednesday, the first time this season coach Jim Zorn authorized him to speak to reporters.

“This is the first one I’ve had in my 30-something years here, but we had certainly heard about it and knew of the condition,” Tyer said. “It was told to Jason that we would have to open him up and let it bleed out. We called consulting physicians to see if there was anything else we could do, and there wasn’t. It was decided fairly quickly that this was what we ought to do.”

Taylor said the emergency procedure saved his career.

“You’d be done forever,” he said doctors told him. “You would get drop foot and be done.”

Drop foot occurs when the nerve inside the leg dies.

Tyer said the situation probably wasn’t as serious as Taylor thought.

“You hate to say [it was career-threatening],” Tyer said. “It wasn’t to that point. We didn’t rush him there with the ambulance and the red lights. The doctor took his time and did a thorough examination. Jason said, ‘It hurts like crazy, but do you have to cut on me?’ We had to convince him that it needed to be done, and it was done in a timely fashion.”

Tyer said Taylor could have suffered muscle and nerve damage without surgery. He added that forgoing surgery could result in either recovery or drop foot.

The ordeal started when Taylor was kicked in the side of the leg during the second quarter against Arizona. He was examined at halftime and fitted with a sleeve, and he played the rest of the game. Afterward, the leg was iced, and Taylor returned home and was told to call Redskins director of rehabilitation Larry Hess if he experienced numbness.

At 3 a.m., Taylor called Hess, who then contacted Tyer and team orthopedist Chris Annuziata, who told Taylor to drive to the emergency room at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

”I finished the game with the injury and didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” Taylor said. “About 3, I decided I needed to call somebody because something was wrong.”

Once at the hospital, Taylor wanted to get a second opinion on having the surgery and talked with noted surgeon James Andrews at about 5 a.m.

“He told me to get off the phone with him and lay down so they could do it because it needed to be done right away,” Taylor said. “It needed to be done immediately. I wanted to wait a couple hours, and they said, ‘You don’t have a couple hours. You should have done it an hour ago.’ Time was of the essence, and we needed to hurry up and do it right away.”

Taylor visited the Redskins’ trainers Tuesday and Wednesday. His rehabilitation starts once he gets off crutches later this week with walking and the stationary bike, and it gradually will move up to running on the field.

”Each time we see him, he’s getting better muscle function and strength back in his lower leg, so it’s responding well,” Tyer said. “We didn’t want to wait to do it. It just needed to be done.”

Said Taylor: “Sometimes the things that make you good can be your demise, too. As a hardhead, I didn’t want to do it and wanted to let God heal it up some, but sometimes I guess you have to help him out.”

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