After taking on the starting role in December, Brock Purdy guided the 49ers to a 7-1 record before suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow during the first quarter of their NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. When the Niners’ management arrived in Mexico, Purdy’s surgery and his transition to a more permanent starting position had been postponed by 40 days due to the need for the swelling to subside.

However, York, Lynch, and Shanahan were not overly concerned about the timing of the surgery. Their primary focus was on determining which of the two possible elbow surgeries Purdy would undergo.

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Based on multiple rounds of medical assessments and expert opinions, they were optimistic that Purdy would undergo a UCL repair with InternalBrace augmentation. This type of repair did not require a tendon graft for a complete ligament reconstruction, making it less complex than the traditional UCL reconstruction, commonly referred to as Tommy John surgery. With a typical recovery time of five to seven months, this approach left the door open for Purdy to potentially return late in the summer.

What is an internal brace?

An internal brace refers to a medical device or technique used in orthopedic and sports medicine to support and stabilize damaged or injured ligaments and tendons within the body. This innovative approach is often utilized to aid in the recovery and healing process of various musculoskeletal injuries, particularly in joints like the knee and ankle.

The internal brace typically consists of a specialized tape or suture material, often made from high-strength fibers like polyester or polyethylene. This material is surgically implanted within the affected joint or tendon to reinforce and strengthen it while providing additional stability. The internal brace works in conjunction with the body’s natural healing mechanisms, allowing patients to regain function and mobility more quickly than traditional treatments alone.

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Common applications of internal bracing include:

  1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction: After an ACL tear, surgeons may use an internal brace to reinforce the reconstructed ligament, offering enhanced stability and reducing the risk of re-injury.
  2. Ankle Ligament Repair: Internal bracing can be used to support and stabilize damaged ankle ligaments, aiding in the recovery process after ankle sprains or ligament injuries.
  3. Elbow Ligament Reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery): In cases of severe elbow ligament injuries, such as those experienced by baseball pitchers, an internal brace may be employed to reinforce the repaired ligament.
  4. Tendon Injuries: Internal bracing can also be used to strengthen and support damaged tendons, facilitating their healing and recovery.

The advantages of internal bracing include its minimally invasive nature, reduced recovery time, and the ability to promote early mobilization and rehabilitation. Patients often experience improved outcomes and a faster return to normal activities compared to traditional surgical procedures.