Jets QB Zach Wilson could start Week 1, but should his Meniscus have been treated differently?

Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson could play Sunday, according to head coach Robert Saleh. Wilson will be evaluated by team medical staff during Wednesday’s practice, at which point a decision will be made.

Wilson suffered a bone bruise and torn meniscus during New York’s preseason opener against the Eagles on August 12. In the moment, the injury looked much more severe than that. However, once an MRI confirmed it wasn’t season-ending, the Jets scheduled Wilson for surgery with the hope he could return in 4-6 weeks.

NY Post

Wilson successfully underwent a meniscus trim (debridement) rather than a repair surgery, which could be an issue later on. Due to the meniscus having limited blood supply, debridement surgery is commonly used when a full repair is not immediately necessary. The procedure involves removing the torn portion of the meniscus. What’s left is a smaller – but still healthy and functional – meniscus.

Repair surgery, on the other hand, is much more intensive. The procedure involves suturing (stitching) together the torn edges of the meniscus, which allows for the cartilage to heal properly. By not removing any portions of the meniscus, it remains full size, which is generally considered ideal, but depends on the situation. Often, younger patients undergo full repairs because they have a stronger blood flow system, which benefits the healing process.

Graphic displaying the differences in treatment (Coastal Orthopedics)

The reason it could be an issue down the road for Wilson, is that meniscus trims (partial meniscectomies) can have long term complications. In a 2010 study, researchers found that 50% of athletes who underwent a partial meniscectomy regained pre-injury levels of activity, opposed to 96.2% of those who underwent a full meniscus repair.

Had Wilson undergone a full repair, he would have missed anywhere from 1-3 months depending on his recovery. Our algorithm predicts he is still 18 days away from Optimal Recovery, while his Injury Risk is High (31%) and his Health Performance Factor is Poor (32%).

Those numbers should improve as he approaches Optimal Recovery – and he easily could be one of the 50% of athletes who regain pre-injury levels given his age and the amount of his meniscus that needed to be removed – but for now there should be a fair amount of caution surrounding who the Jets want to be their franchise QB.

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