Shefflin recovery 'absurd'
Published 03/09/2010 | 05:00
AS the hurling world waits to see if 'King Henry' is named in Kilkenny's team tonight, a leading Irish sports medic fears Shefflin's participation in Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final will raise "absurd expectations" among others with the same injury.
The Ballyhale sharpshooter tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee in the semi-final defeat of Cork and it was initially believed to be serious enough to force him out of the final.
Yet an accelerated rehabilitation regime with Limerick physical therapist Gerard Hartmann has seen the former Hurler of the Year defy all medical opinion. He returned to training just 17 days later and is now expected to play a starting role in Kilkenny's historic 'Drive for Five'.
Dr Pat Duggan believes Shefflin's remarkably rapid recovery will give others false hopes of replicating it and has stressed that the full details of his injury have still to emerge.
"The Henry Shefflin scenario is inevitably going to raise absurd expectations among hundreds of unfortunate amateur athletes who rupture their ACLs," said Duggan, who is a leading member of the GAA's Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee.
"I wish Henry every success and nobody deserves it more than he does," he stressed. "I also congratulate the management and medical group who were involved in Henry's rehabilitation.
"However, I think it is important for the ordinary, everyday sportsman to retain a degree of perspective here.
"I have seen many cruciate injuries and I find it absurd that two weeks' rehab, no matter how many hours a day it was, could compensate if the knee was unstable secondary to an acute tear.
"It is likely that, irrespective of what injury Henry suffered, his knee was fundamentally stable."
Duggan also questioned the notion that cryotherapy has helped speed up Shefflin's recovery. "While the concept of ice massage is logical in some aspects, there is minimal scientific evidence that it makes a difference," he said.