It’s been months since Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Cliff Avril suffered a freak injury in the team’s October 1st game against the Indianapolis Colts. While tackling the quarterback he was inadvertently kicked in the chin, and almost immediately lost feeling in his arms or hands. The initial diagnosis was a ‘stinger’ or brachial nerve injury, a condition described as “a stretch injury of a nerve bundle that lives between the neck and the shoulder.” Though it was hoped that with time the symptoms would subside, by late November the 31-year-old had undergone what was referred to as “disc-related” surgery similar to procedures performed here at our cervical neck surgery practice in New Jersey. Almost two months later, he is focusing on recovery rather than returning to football.
Avril says that for now, his focus is on returning to feeling good. “I just want to get back to being able to move around and hopefully be able to go outside and play basketball with my kids and different things like that. That’s the main goal for me, not necessarily getting back to football but just quality of life.” He reports that he is beginning to get his range of motion back in his neck, and he feels that every day he’s getting a little bit better.
Speaking of the surgery, he says that other than some immediate discomfort immediately after his neck and spine surgery, he has had very little pain. What discomfort he felt went away about two weeks after the surgery. Now he’s focusing on his rehab process, which he describes as, “Physical therapy, but also I’ve been sitting around for the last probably two and a half months doing nothing, which is different for me. In the fall I’m so used to being in tip-top shape; so for me right now, it’s really just trying to get back in shape. Getting back to my normal self actually, trying to get fit but also work on mobility and different things for my neck.”
Cliff Avril is trying to take one day at a time, and he’s working not to jump too far ahead to his football career. He understands that his first hurdle is to get back to normal. ”It’s such a long journey,” he says. “This is supposed to be a four, five, six-month type of thing. So once I get to that five-month mark and I’m seeing how I’m feeling and all these different things, then I’ll sit down with my wife and we’ll have the discussion. But I have the mindset of being able to return. Because I feel like as a professional athlete if you do have that mindset you’re going to go at 110 percent to get back to normal more so than anything.”