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Physician: No greater risk for Luck re-injuring kidney when he returns

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Quarterback Andrew Luck on the sidelines during the Colts' 25-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29, 2015.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 15, 2015) – Once Andrew Luck gains medical clearance to practice and return to the playing field, there’s no increased risk of the Indianapolis Colts quarterback re-injuring the kidney that’s kept him out of the last four games.

“My suggestion would be the risk of re-injuring it would be the same as before,’’ said Joel Kary, a physician with St. Vincent Sports Performance and Butler University’s team physician. “He just got hit the wrong way to cause the injury.

“It could happen again, but it’s not like a concussion where once you get one, you’re a little bit higher risk of getting another. Kidney injuries aren’t like that. Once it’s healed, it’s healed.’’

Luck suffered a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle against Denver No. 8. The initial prognosis had him missing up to six weeks. That time frame would have Luck returning for either Sunday’s showdown with the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium, or the Dec. 27 trip to Miami.

Luck has continually increased his workout regimen. He has been throwing for at least two weeks, and has added lifting weights and running sprints. The next step is for team doctors to clear Luck for practice, and Monday he gave every indication that will be the case when practice resumes Wednesday.

Although Luck admitted he isn’t 100 percent, he said his goal was “to practice this week.’’ Even if that occurs, he then would have to be cleared to return to the playing field.

The process for handling kidney injuries similar to Luck’s, according to Kary, involves regular CT scans to determine whether the lacerated organ is healing, tests to determine if there’s blood in the individual’s urine from the injury and if the individual is tolerating increased physical activity without unusual pain.
It’s encouraging, Kary added, that Luck apparently has increased his throwing, running and lifting without significant discomfort.

“That’s what you do with any injury, whether it’s an internal injury or an ankle sprain,’’ Kary said. “Then you say, ‘OK, let’s test you, let’s progress and see how you do with that.’ Then you do another urinalysis and check another CT scan. You do it bit by bit.’’

The final steps are practice and contact in game situations. Although quarterbacks are off limits to contact in practice, Kary wondered if the Colts might decide to “let him get bumped around a little bit before he goes into a game.

“Do you completely put the kid gloves on and not have anyone touch him in practice and just let him go into a game where he could take a vicious hit on the second play? I would probably want him to have a little bit of contact.

“Obviously you would want the offensive line to have a perfect game and not have him get hit, but that’s not going to happen.’’