LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Tiger Woods is at the beginning of a long road to recovery after the golfing legend suffered major leg injuries during a rollover crash Tuesday morning.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jaime Hernandez says Woods is just lucky to have survived the impact.
Auto experts said the car was a Genesis GV80, a newer luxury SUV. The car comes with high-tech safety features, like 10 airbags.
The airbag between the passenger and driver seat was most important during the crash and could have saved Woods’ life, experts said.
“It is kind of like a cushion its the difference between having a bad day or having the rest of your life be changed,” said Brian Moody of AutoTrader. “His injuries are absolutely less serious because he was in the type of car he was in. A newer car, plus manufactured by a company who normally scores high in terms of crash tests.”
“After an injury like this, things are never the same,” said Hernandez. “All of this taken together is obviously a pretty severe injury and requires healing to different structures – bone, soft tissue, muscle, tendon, possibly nerves, so it’s a pretty severe injury.”
A statement posted on the golfer’s Twitter account says Woods is “responsive and recovering” after undergoing extensive surgery on his lower right leg and ankle.
It’s an injury that Hernandez says could have resulted in a lost limb.
“One of the problems with a significant crush injury to the leg is that there can be so much swelling that builds up from all of the trauma, that the swelling can actually prevent the blood from flowing into the leg and if that happens when the leg has no blood supply, it can die,” he said.
Prior to the accident, Woods was recovering from his fifth back surgery.
Now Dr. Hernandez says his leg injuries will require 6 months to a year of recovery.
After treating similar injuries, he believes the golfer will be able to walk again, but what about getting back to playing the sport he mastered?
“He has leg limitations, back limitations, but you know the mental side is a huge factor,” Hernandez said.
Dr. Judy Rosenberg, director of the Psychological Healing Center in Sherman Oaks, says the initial feeling after a traumatic experience, like a car accident, is shock.
“Emotionally, he’s got a road to recovery because there is no way he will not be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder,” Rosenberg said. “They may feel numb, disoriented, they may feel that they aren’t even living in this world like a sense of de-realization and confusion.”
As Woods battles a physical and mental recovery, many are left wondering what this means for the golfer’s future.
“He’s going to have to go through massive therapy, physical therapy and so on and so who he has been being, which is an athlete, may not be accessible to him for quite some time,” said Rosenberg.