In the second episode of Treated.com’s Injury of the Month series with the Toronto Wolfpack, we sat down with prop forward Anthony Mullally, known to some as ‘The Vegan Warrior’, to talk about quad contusions. 

“Quad contusions, or dead leg as it's more commonly referred to” comments GP Clinical Lead at Treated.com Dr. Daniel Atkinson “are very common injuries and not one exclusive to sports players. Indeed, any of us can experience a dead leg. 

Our hope with the March episode of Injury of the Month is to shed some light on this common injury, and steps you can take at home if you, or one of your children, encounters such an injury. Often, a dead leg will clear up on its own - but there are some things we can all do to ensure the recovery process is as speedy and straightforward as possible.” 

#2 - Quad contusion (dead leg)

We spoke with Anthony Mullally at the Toronto Wolfpack training ground about a quad contusion injury he sustained at a pre-season warm-up game against the Castleford Tigers. 

Mullally began his career with his home team the Widnes Vikings, and went on to play for a number of teams in a number of divisions, at times on loan - including the Swinton Lions, Huddersfield Giants, Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos and the Toronto Wolfpack where he plays presently.  

He has also represented his country, Ireland, at an international playing level. He made appearances in both the 2013 and 2017 Rugby League World Cup. 

At the start of the year in a pre-season warm up game against the Castleford Tigers, Mullally sustained a quad contusion, or dead leg. 

Mullally tells us that he “can’t remember the exact blow, but I think someone went really low, someone’s knee went directly into the quad which gave me a dead leg - hematoma.”

He goes on to say that “it was pretty painful, it kind of feels like your leg’s twice the size, it feels swollen, you can’t really bend it, and you’re hobbling when you’re running. They tried to run it off as I came off, but it didn’t really work, but I still came back on and finished the game.”

A dead leg is typically the consequence of a sharp blow or collision which causes a deep bruise relating to the affected area. 

“It happens in playgrounds a lot and it happens on sports fields a lot as well”, Dr. Atkinson tells us, “The medical name for it is a quadriceps contusion. A quadricep is just your thigh muscle, and a contusion is just a posh name for a bruise.

Depending on how bad the injury is, a dead leg, in most cases, will likely sort itself out and over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol may not even be necessary. If it is a bit more serious, it might feel really sore, particularly when bearing weight on it. If this is the case, it might be worth adhering to what is called the RICE treatment method. 

RICE stands for: 

  • rest,
  • ice, 
  • compression
  • and elevation. 

So, resting means stop doing what you were doing beforehand, as not to aggravate or worsen the injury. Apply ice, if possible for 10 minutes every couple of hours for around the first 10 hours following on from the injury. Compression means to wrap a bandage around the injury, which helps to apply some pressure and reduce swelling. Finally, elevation means to raise the leg so that the blood supply is going to travel back to the heart more, and not pool around the bruise. This can help reduce the time you’ll feel in pain.”

Fortunately for Mullally, a dead leg is a common injury in professional rugby and one he’d encountered before. 

He tells us that he “actually got one in [his] first training session with the Toronto [Wolfpack] before I got my first game, so I was playing a bit hindered with that. 

Sometimes, it can be really bad, sometimes you have to get it drained because of the calcification of the blood. But, normally it’s just something you’ve got to get through. Strap it up, and put a pad on it, so it doesn’t get another knock.”

Working closely with the Toronto Wolfpack physio team, Mullally made a speedy recovery following his quad contusion. Following the advice given, the bruising subsided, and he went on to play the subsequent game without hindrance.