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'Leg fractures may take half a year to heal'

Professional athletes may recover faster from certain types of injuries because of their superior fitness levels.

But leg fractures, as a rule of thumb, would take half a year to heal, said Dr Benedict Tan, chief and senior consultant of the Changi Sports Medicine Centre.

"Such injuries are often complex issues, since the ligament, tendon and cartilage may also be involved as well," said Dr Tan, who is also the senior consultant of Singapore Sports Medicine Centre.

Factors such as strength, agility and stability will be affected if other parts of the leg - other than the tibia and fibula - are injured as well, and need to be corrected through rehabilitation.

PERMANENT

Damage to the cartilage will result in some form of permanent loss of the leg's full range of abilities, while damage to the tendons and ligaments may continue to impair a person after recovery as well, depending on the extent of the injury.

"Professional athletes already start at a higher level of fitness than the layman, so they will have an advantage in certain aspects of the rehabilitation process, such as strengthening work," said Dr Tan, who has not assessed footballer Shahdan Sulaiman's injuries himself.

"But there's no such advantage when it comes to broken bones; you have to give it time for them to fuse.

DECONDITIONING

"At the same time, he should need to beware of deconditioning and joint stiffness, especially when a cast 
is involved."

The former national sailor, who is now the Singapore Sailing Federation president, added that the timeline for a person's comeback from such injuries also depends on whether doctors can restore the injured parts to their original condition during surgery.

"Six months is a rule of thumb for such injuries; some may gamble after five months, but it depends on how quickly or slowly the injuries heal," said Dr Tan.

"But it will be about six months before one can run and jump after such injuries, and longer if he wants to play football."