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Assessing the medical risk of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger returning to the lineup in Week 10

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Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger is not closing the door on possibly playing this Sunday vs. the Browns. BTSC was able to speak with Mark Drakos, MD to discuss the risk involved if Roethlisberger returns to the lineup early.

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The status of Ben Roethlisberger has been a hot topic around the city of Pittsburgh and fans of the Steelers for weeks now. Whether it was the knee sprain suffered in Week 3 against the St. Louis Rams, to the mid-foot sprain suffered last week against the Oakland Raiders.

With Mike Tomlin and Roethlisberger not ruling out his return for the team's Week 10 game against the Cleveland Browns, the process for Roethlisberger to return certainly has many asking questions about the return, from a health standpoint. At BTSC, we reached out to Mark Drakos, MD, a foot and ankle surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, to ask him about the entire process for Roethlisberger's return.

Early reports are stating Ben Roethlisberger has a mid-foot sprain, also known as a Lisfranc injury. What is the most difficult part of returning to action after such an injury, specifically for a quarterback.

Being able to push off the ground is one of the most difficult aspects of returning to play. The Lisfranc ligament stabilizes the arch of the foot and it can be difficult to get up on your toes after this type of injury.

What is the rehabilitation/healing process like for an injury like a Lisfranc injury?

The rehabilitation process depends on the severity of the injury. If the Lisfranc ligament is sprained then recovery time is 2-6 weeks. If it is torn recovery time can be 8-12 weeks. When surgery is required recovery times can be 5-6 months and usually ends a player's season.

Will Roethlisberger's knee injury to the same leg possibly hinder the rehabilitation process at all, possibly delaying the recovery process?

Yes, he may be compensating for the knee injury already and now he may have to compensate more with the foot injury.

Some reports are stating Roethlisberger could return in a 1-2 week window. The team plays the Browns this week, with a bye the following week. Is a return in Week 12 in Seattle a realistic option for the quarterback, even if it is a mild sprain.

It would likely have to be a very mild sprain with no tear to return to play in that time. If it is a true Lisfranc injury than this would be a very early return.

What devices, molds, casts or braces can be used to minimize the pain and discomfort when Roethlisberger does return to the field?

Orthotics such as carbon fiber or steel plates can be inserted into the cleat to give the foot more support.

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A huge thanks to Dr. Drakos for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions related to Roethlisberger's potential return from a medical standpoint. Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin might say all the right things in regard to the franchise quarterback possibly returning just a week after injuring the foot, but from a medical standpoint it seems like a stretch for him to suit up in Week 10.