Roethlisberger's recovery: 'He is awake, alert, oriented. . .'
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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was upgraded to fair condition and could be released from Mercy Hospital by the end of the week, his doctor said yesterday.
He was also transferred from the recovery room to an undisclosed unit at the hospital, said Dr. Larry M. Jones, chief of the multisystem trauma division.
"He is awake, alert, oriented and is resting with family by his side," the doctor said. "If all goes as planned, Mr. Roethlisberger could be released from the hospital in the next three to five days."
Dr. Jones listed the quarterback's injuries: fractures of the upper and lower jaws, facial bones and nose; a mild concussion; multiple head lacerations, and multiple abrasions and contusions; and two lost teeth and several chipped teeth.
His knees were not damaged, and a CT scan indicated there was no brain injury.
"Our continued observation shows that his brain is functioning normally," Dr. Jones said.
On Monday, a team of surgeons repaired the broken bones in Mr. Roethlisberger's face during a seven-hour surgery.
Dr. Daniel Pituch, who led the surgical team, "did a beautiful job putting him back together ... with tremendous artistry and detail," said Dr. Guy Stofman, Mercy's chief of plastic surgery. "My hat is off to him."
Mr. Roethlisberger will probably need to eat a soft diet for four to six weeks "to rest his jaw," Dr. Stofman said, and probably should not be involved in "high velocity contact" for seven to eight weeks.
He said that if Mr. Roethlisberger needs to undergo rehabilitation, it likely "will not be very intense."
"When we're satisfied that he's capable, he can start working out. That could be weeks," said Dr. Stofman, who has been involved in Mr. Roethlisberger's care.
"For the next four to six weeks, he will be closely watched and his activity level will be geared toward his progress."
Asked if he could have a full recovery, Dr. Stofman said, "that's what we're hoping for. He's a very brave and very strong-willed, super young man."
Team sources said Roethlisberger should be ready to participate in training camp, which starts in July, although he may not play in the first preseason game Aug. 12. But they are confident he should heal and be ready to play in the season opener Sept. 7 against the Miami Dolphins.
The biggest unknown in terms of his recovery is "what the future brings," Dr. Stofman said, noting there is "a physical, psychological and emotional component" to his injuries. "Only time will tell."
Dr. Stofman did not rule out the possibility that the Steelers quarterback could develop memory deficits or other cognitive problems that can sometimes occur after a traumatic head injury.
"I've seen tremendous head injuries that have had no long-term effects at all," he said, "yet I've seen bumps on the head that appear to be very innocuous or benign, if you will, turn into major, major problems."
Mr. Roethlisberger's doctors are pleased with his progress, but he will have to take one day at a time.
On the positive side, "early on, he knew where he was, was answering appropriately," Dr. Stofman said. "If he heals without significant complications and all the chips fall into place, his prognosis will be great. But none of us plays God. None of us predicts the future."Post-Gazette
First Published June 14, 2006 12:00 am