Tom Brady's surgeon spoke for the first time Monday about the star's rehabilitation from his knee reconstruction, and the doctor didn't try to hide his astonishment at Brady's recovery.
The Los Angeles Times reported Dr. Neal ElAttrache said Brady "even exceeded what I thought he was going to be able to do, and I was expecting big things from him."
ElAttrache said: "Let's face it, guys that are athletes like him, they're strung together different. By and large, they follow the same biologic rules as the rest of us. However, they're able to do things with their neuromuscular control and their strength gains and how they respond to exercise a little bit differently. Within safe limits of how we know how these things heal after an operation like this, I had to take that into consideration."
Brady returned to organized team activities with the New England Patriots on Tuesday and spoke to the media for the first time Thursday since suffering a season-ending tear in several knee ligaments in the first game of the season.
ElAttrache, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in L.A. and the Los Angeles Dodgers' team doctor, performed the knee reconstruction on Oct. 6. In addition to Brady, ElAttrache has performed surgeries on other top-flight athletes, including the Los Angeles Lakers' Kwame Brown and the Dodgers' Jason Schmidt.
"With regard to his recovery of strength, I've never seen anything quite like it," ElAttrache said to the Times. "With an average person, it would have taken probably twice as long to get range of motion and strength back."
There were several small setbacks as Brady had to have follow-up procedures for a post-operative staph infection that developed.
"I remember when we came out of the original procedure and five days later things weren't going the way that we hoped, and I think it was his instincts and quick decision-making that got me in there before anything really bad could happen," Brady said to the Times. "If you misdiagnose something like that, then you have big problems. It was his judgment and instincts, and then him assuring me that everything was going to be OK.
"Obviously, with how I feel now, he was 100 percent right in what he did. It's great for me to have so much trust and to know that hopefully nothing ever comes up again but if it does that I have somebody like him in my corner."
Brady told the Times neither he nor ElAttrache doubted Brady would return for the 2009 season. But that point was brought home to ElAttrache during a workout in January in which he got to see Brady in his natural environment.
"When I saw the happiness on his face whenever he had that ball in his hands and was able to get out there and move around, I thought, 'Wow, he's much further ahead than I even thought he could be,'" ElAttrache told the Times.
"That was sort of his gift to me to show me we're good."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.