Lumberton athlete plays on after surgery
By Roxana Ross
This year, Lumberton High School Senior Michael Todd Jr. signed his intent to attend and play football at Fayetteville State University, his ultimate choice of the six colleges that offered him athletic scholarships. Two years ago, however, he faced a severe knee injury that could have stopped his college athletic career before it could begin.
“My tenth grade year, I was at football practice, and one of my teammates got pushed into my leg,” Todd said. “It kind of snapped.”
An MRI showed Todd had multiple ligaments that had torn, his ACL and LCL.
“A lot of times, that is a career-ending injury,” said Dr. Eric Breitbart, and orthopedic surgeon with Southeastern Health’s Southeastern Orthopedics. “People with that severe of an injury aren’t always able to get back to any types of sports, but he’s not only got back to playing, but playing at the level where he’s getting significant offers.”
After God, Todd thanks the reconstruction surgery performed by Dr. Breitbart and the physical rehabilitation therapy that he went through with Southeastern Orthopedics and the athletic trainer at his school, Matt Ferrell.
“Dr. Breitbart helped me a lot, and Matt,” Todd said. “They didn’t force me back too fast. I worked super hard during rehab. I went two times a day trying to get back better, stronger, and healthier.”
Signing with Fayetteville State University is a dream come true, Todd said, and playing at the next level is something he put in a lot of work to achieve. As well as being a standout defensive lineman for his varsity football team, Todd has also played varsity basketball and is a member of the track and field team. Among his college offers were Division-II and Division-I Football Championship Subdivision schools.
Dr. Breitbart seconded his work ethic following his injury, and credited his determined efforts with athletic trainers during rehab.
“He’s a very highly motivated athlete,” Dr. Breitbart said. “He followed all the instruction properly. The fact that he has continued to play without pain and without issue, probably less than 50 percent of people would be able to get back to that, to maintain a high level of athleticism after what was a pretty devastating injury. That same type of injury has ended the careers for many other professional athletes.”
Todd’s father, Michael Todd Sr., knew his son was in good hands when Todd Jr. came to Southeastern Orthopedics, because he had just completed his own year-long rehab after surgery on a ruptured patella tendon with Dr. Breitbart.
“They did a tremendous amount of work, and they worked as a team,” Todd Sr. said. “It’s nothing short of amazing the knowledge and charisma they have working together to help patients come back at 100 percent, or go back to their regular duty. Dr. Breitbart didn’t ever give us any negativity, he never said he couldn’t play football again. He said it was up to him, and how he prepared himself mentally.”
March is National Athletic Training Month, an annual observance to raise awareness and celebrate athletic trainers. The National Athletic Training Association describes them as “highly skilled health care professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide compassionate health care for athletes, patients, soldiers, workers and performers.” Southeastern Health has athletic trainers, like Matt Ferrell, stationed at each public high school in Robeson County.