Tiger Woods is lucky to be alive after his 2021 Genesis SUV rolled down an embankment in California on Feb. 23. The 45-year old golf legend is currently in a hospital in Los Angeles recovering from surgery to his leg, which was badly injured in the car crash. We spoke to a world-renowned sports medicine specialist, who is not treating Tiger, to find out what this may mean for the future of his golf career.
Orthopedic surgeon Bert Mandelbaum, who is not part of Tiger’s medical team, told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that high level athletes are able to overcome complex injuries more easily than the average person. “The beauty of these athletes, what happens is through the adversity of it all, it turns on a reaction within them,” he explained.
Dr. Mandelbaum, who currently serves as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Major League Soccer, emphasized that the road to recovery won’t be easy for Tiger, but he insisted that there is hope. “We always say, potentially, because there are so many variables and hurdles that we’re going to get beyond. The fight is just starting, so to speak.”
“But if I were to bet on someone with all those hurdles, with all those challenges, I would bet on that guy,” he added. “What I’m saying is, there’s no one that is a better soldier, and a better wizard, at all of it than Tiger.”
In a statement released by Tiger’s medical team on Feb. 23, it was revealed that he suffered “comminuted open fractures to the upper and lower sections of his right leg, as well as significant trauma to his right ankle.”
Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, also said in the statement that Tiger underwent surgery to insert a rod, screws and pins to stabilize his leg and that trauma to the “muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscle to relieve pressure due to swelling.”
According to our expert, another surgery may be required over the next few days. “A lot of it depends on exactly what was done in surgery and the amount of swelling and damage to the soft tissues that exists,” said Dr. Mandelbaum. “They’ll be caring for the wounds. They’ll be giving him appropriate antibiotics. And then they will be making decisions regarding how to manage the wounds.”“Sometimes it could be going back to wash the wounds,” he continued. “Sometimes, it means they go back to surgery, and they close the wounds. It all depends on what they’re given at that time. And sometimes, we actually have to leave the wounds open and put grafts over the top. So it depends on the situation that they’re given.”
As for how long Tiger’s road to recovery will take, it’s still far too soon to say, according to Dr. Mandelbaum. “It’s going to be commensurate with the amount of damage, and the complexities of injury to the skin and soft tissues,” he explained. “And that’s where the decisions will be made. We don’t know that part of it. And I think that part of it will become more clear over the coming days, and decisions will be made accordingly.”