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'He said 'You'll never be able to walk again' - Parsons on recovering from horror knee injury

The Mayo midfielder suffered the injury in a Connacht quarter-final defeat to Galway in May 2018.

Mayo's Tom Parsons.
Mayo's Tom Parsons.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

TOM PARSONS HAS described the shock of being told he would never be able to run again following the horrific knee injury he suffered in 2018.

Parsons suffered the injury in Mayo’s Connacht quarter-final defeat to Galway in May 2018, and such was the extent of the damage, if was feared the Charlestown Sarsfields clubman would never line out for his county again.

But Parsons has admitted that the initial prognosis was far more serious.

“I’ll never forget being in Galway University Hospital and the CT Scan… there was a risk that my motor nerve had gone. My foot had [gone] black and I didn’t say this at the time because I didn’t want the headlines of that piece,” Parsons told Off The Ball.

“I’ll never forget actually being told by the vascular specialist that ‘you will get function of your leg’.

“But I’ll never forget being in my hospital bed in Galway University Hospital… you’re in a ward but you have the sheets covering your bed. People were whispering saying ‘that’s Tom Parsons in there, did you see his injury, it was horrific!’

“I could hear people whispering about my injury and in that then, this doctor came in… he picked up the chart… and I was in pretty good form at the time because I was just told my motor nerve was intact.

“I just said ‘Doc, when will I be able to run again, when will I be able to play?’ I wasn’t really expecting an answer but I’ll never forget what he said. He just put the chart down and he said ‘My friend, my friend, this is a car crash injury. You will never be able to run again, this is your reality.’”

Despite that devastating news, Parsons undertook a rigorous rehabilitation programme after successful knee reconstruction surgery, which included grafting ligaments from other parts of his body, along with using ligaments from a deceased donor.

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tom-parsons-arrives Parson's has returned to the Mayo team to feature in this year's Allianz League. Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

He returned to the Mayo team with a late cameo in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin last August.

“Nobody said this was beyond the realms of possibilities but there was no doubt about it, I think publicly people had definitely said that was the end. I’ll never forget the medical opinion in the hospital that day though,” he added.

“I’ll tell you what, the sense of gratitude you get when a specialist comes in and says ‘you’re a lucky man, you’ll get full function of your leg.’

“I didn’t focus on the end goal of coming back to play, I just had mini-goals. One of my coaches, Enda King, said ‘Tom, just every Friday write down the [answer to the] question are you stronger this Friday than you were last Friday?’ If that answer is yes every week then eventually you will get to the goal you want to get to.” 

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