What Peyton Manning’s Neck Injury Can Teach Us About Rebounding After a Serious Injury

By Staff Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 26, 2014: Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning arrives on United flight 1825 charter Boeing 767-400 plane at Newark Liberty International Airport for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game

NEWARK, NJ – JANUARY 26, 2014: Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning arrives on United flight 1825 charter Boeing 767-400 plane at Newark Liberty International Airport for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game

In 2010 and 2011, quarterback Peyton Manning endured three neck surgeries in 15 months. Many NFL observers believed that complex medical problems would prevent Manning from taking the field again. However, he not only rebounded successfully, but he also continues to be an elite quarterback in the NFL while only five months shy of his 40th birthday. What can injured people learn from Manning’s experience and remarkable recovery?

Initial operations on Manning’s neck failed to work, so his doctors tried a novel approach, using a single level anterior fusion, which approaches the injury from the front of the body instead of the back.

Based on experience performing more than a thousand of these operations, Manning’s surgeon, Dr. Rick Sasso, felt confident that he had a technique that could work. Since Manning’s disc herniation was in front of the nerve, he entered from the front to remove pressure. Dr. Sasso also opened up the area by the nerve, removing the herniated disc, and then inserted a small bone graft, which fused the bones together and prevented the vertebrae from collapsing on each other. Finally, he placed a small plate to increase neck mobility. Per Dr. Sasso, Manning’s surgery was “routine.”

Patients with this problem can even go through outpatient surgery, which can take as few as four hours. They can potentially begin moving their neck the following day. However, understandably, the recovery process takes longer for athletes trying to return to rough sports like football.

To return to collision sports, patients must give the surgery and fusion time to heal — this generally takes three to four months. For Manning, this meant that he did not get to play during the 2011 – 2012 season.


Broader Lessons to Be Learned from Manning’s Recovery

Recovery time after serious injuries and related surgeries should not be minimized. However, new medical procedures and follow-up therapy sometimes effectively accelerate the healing process. (For single level anterior fusion operations, recovery now typically takes about a month. This surgical option didn’t even exist several years ago!) Accident victims should not necessarily worry about the length of the healing process based on what they have heard in the past; ongoing research innovations can often improve recovery times.

That said, this isn’t to say that recovering from a terrible injury will be easy or certain or that a promising surgical or medical technique will work. However, you and your family may have more reason to be hopeful than you realize, depending on what happened to you and whether promising treatment techniques are in development.

Do you or a loved one need insight from a seasoned Colorado personal injury attorney? Please call the Gasper Law Group at 866-204-6973 or 719-227-7779 to schedule a time to speak with us about obtaining fair and complete compensation.