When it was learned yesterday that Washington State’s leading rusher, James Montgomery, underwent season-ending surgery on Sunday, it seemed as if it was nothing more than a run-of-the-mill injury to his leg and was not given much thought given the state of the Cougars program.
As it turns out, it was anything but routine.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the surgery Montgomery underwent was of the emergency variety. The unseen and unknown internal damage to his leg was so severe that it was deemed life-threatening, or at the very least there was a risk that the back would’ve been facing amputation.
Close friend Dwight Tardy, a senior running back, said team doctor Ed Tingstad told him Montgomery “probably could have died” if a Sunday morning operation had been delayed too long. A wait of one to two hours might have led to amputation, Tardy said Tingstad told him.
“He (Tingstad) was pretty rattled and shook up,” Tardy said. “He started crying.”
Trainer Bill Drake confirmed the gravity of Montgomery’s injury, adding, “There’s a lot of good news right now. His leg is saved.”
Head coach Paul Wulff said Montgomery was experiencing increased discomfort in the hours after suffering the injury. It’s believed that acute compartment syndrome, in part, led to the medical emergency. And, based on the following passage from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website, it’s easy to see how such a seemingly minor injury could escalate into a life-and-death situation.
Compartment syndrome can be either acute or chronic. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. Without treatment, it can lead to paralysis, loss of limb or death. Chronic compartment syndrome is not a medical emergency. …
It may take several hours for acute compartment syndrome to develop. Within the muscle compartment, swelling and/or bleeding creates pressure on capillaries and nerves. When the pressure in the compartment exceeds the blood pressure within the capillaries, the capillaries collapse. This disrupts the blood flow to muscle and nerve cells. Without a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients, nerve and muscle cells begin to die within hours. Unless the pressure is relieved quickly, this can cause permanent disability or death.
While the good news is that Montgomery’s life and limb were saved, the same can’t necessarily be said for his football career. At least not yet.
According to WSU’s trainer, it will be six to 12 months before Montgomery will know whether or not he’ll be able to continue playing the game.