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Podiatry in Sports: Surgically repaired foot shouldn’t limit Dolphins’ DeVante Parker

As the Miami Dolphins prepare for their preseason opener against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Thursday night, the organization’s first-round pick, DeVante Parker, remains out of action after undergoing foot surgery earlier in the offseason.

Parker, the first wide receiver the Dolphins selected in the first round since Ted Ginn Jr. in 2007, is expected to miss most, if not all, of the team’s four-game preseason after a screw that had been previously inserted into his left foot was replaced for precautionary reasons.

The surgery, which was conducted at Doctors Hospital at Baptist Health South Florida on June 5, stems from an injury that took place during Parker’s senior season at Louisville where the 22-year-old wideout was sidelined for seven games after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

In the world of podiatry, a fifth metatarsal base fracture is seen as a fairly common orthopedic injury that occurs when twisting of the ankle and foot causes a small piece of bone to be pulled off the main portion of the bone by a tendon or ligament. In order to repair the damage, a screw is inserted into the foot to restore the bone and tendon to their natural position.

An X-Ray of a patient who has had a screw inserted into their foot. (Credit: Delray Beach Podiatry)

An X-Ray of a patient who has had a screw inserted into their foot. (Credit: Delray Beach Podiatry)

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a board certified podiatrist with over 30 years of experience, has performed similar surgeries at his offices in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach and notes that an early return to the field might have played a role in Parker needing to go back under the knife.

“High-demand people, they get on it too fast,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “He was probably just on it a bit too much.”

In an interview with the Sun Sentinel, Parker did note that he was feeling some initial discomfort upon his return from the initial surgery.

“When I first came back it bothered me a little bit,” Parker said, “but as I went on later in the season my foot felt 100 percent, so there were no problems with that.”

Parker, who has been at the Dolphins’ facility every day during training camp, still cannot run full speed, but according to ESPN, has had no trouble walking and hasn’t been seen wearing a boot.

“It’s hard to say; we’re not sure exactly when he’s going to get back,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Tuesday. “I don’t know if he’s going to practice? How much he’s going to practice? If he’s going to play in the preseason? Those are all hypotheticals.”

At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, Parker’s unique blend of size and skill is expected to add a new dynamic to Miami’s revamped receiving core that includes fellow newcomers Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings.

According to Dr. Goldbaum, however, Parker’s large frame, coupled with the physical demands of his profession, also puts him at risk for continued foot and ankle problems.

“In sports, especially in an NFL patient, you’ve got a heavy guy going against another heavy guy,” said Dr. Goldbaum, who noted the constant stress that football puts on the peroneus brevis muscle of the foot. “Patients who are high demand have a greater chance of re-injuring due to the risk presented by their continued activity in the sport.”

That being said, if Parker takes care of himself, Dr. Goldbaum sees no reason why he shouldn’t be able to remain healthy throughout his career.

“If he trains right and everything goes well, he should be fine,” he said.

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