How Does TV Action Hero Jack Reacher Heal So Fast?

March 2, 2022 – If you are one of the many who binge the Amazon Prime series Reacher Lately – or read Lee Child’s bestsellers – you’ve been enjoying the lethal weapons of Army veteran Jack Reacher delivering his share of wish-fulfilling revenge in satisfying ways. Despite the character being 6ft 5in tall and essentially a hunk of muscle (played convincingly by a real hunk of muscle by Alan Ritchson), Reacher does bleed to death.

Sure, Hollywood has a long history of leading men and women getting punched, kicked, stabbed, and shot, but none of that slowed them down. (Here, we must pay tribute to the brave Black Knight Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) Jack Reacher is no different.

We thought it might be interesting to ask some ER doctors to compare “Reacher time” to real-time for treating and healing Reacher’s most visible injuries—and how we non-Reacher mortals can help ourselves heal faster from our own failures. The answers themselves kick ass.

Injury: Stabbed to the shoulder blade.

It’s a wound that would send any normal person to the emergency room.

Reach time: Minute’s a cop cleans him up after a fight, asking, “Do you want stitches?” He refuses. She says, “It’s superglue.” He immediately returned to duty.

Real-life: Depending on what was cut besides the skin, “healing could take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours,” says Kenneth J. Perry, MD, an ER attending physician in Charleston, South Carolina. “If the injury does not appear to be close to arteries or other deeper structures, then the wound should be cleaned and closed.”

These can be stitches, staples, tape, or even medical glue. So the policeman was not far from here.

“If it’s a complex wound with muscles or other structures that need to be sutured together, healing and recovery will take much longer,” says Perry. Regardless, Reacher will definitely get hurt and probably won’t be hitting with that arm anytime soon (or risk re-opening the wound if he does).

In addition, “given the nature of the stabbing, oral antibiotics are likely to be prescribed,” says Tamara Greene, MD, an independent emergency physician in Maryland. “Reacher is ex-military (and prone to fighting), so his tetanus shot status should be up to date.”

Injury: Headbutt (recurring)

Reacher appears to headbutt as many people as he can and falls victim to his signature move on several occasions.

Reach time: Apparently no treatment is needed. At some point during all of these head-to-head battles, Reacher raises an eyebrow. He continues to fight, imperturbable.

Real-life: Maybe weeks or even months.

“A blow to the head of any kind can easily cause a concussion, a cerebral hemorrhage, or even a skull fracture,” explains Perry.

Reacher uses his forehead to hit his opponents on vulnerable parts of their skull, such as the nose or eyes. This Perry says, definitely lowers his risk. However, a hard hit to the head is what it is.

Concussion symptoms include headache, confusion, amnesia, stumbling, and blackouts, Green said, and these can happen right away. But Reacher doesn’t show any side effects.

“Given his size and the size of his attackers, it’s possible that he will do them more harm in the short term,” says Green. Most likely, this simply was not in the script.

Injury: Elbow to the face

Reach time: Immediately, he comes back so fast that you almost don’t notice him getting hit. A fast rewind will confirm that it was quite a hard hit.

Real-life: Possibly several days to weeks. In addition to concussion, trauma to the face can lead to fractures of bones such as the eye socket. “The bones in the lower part of the eye socket sometimes need surgery to prevent damage to the muscles that move the eye,” says Perry.

Injury, damage: Dramatic car accident

Reacher sits in the back of a police car as it drives off a bridge into a river.

Reach time: What injury? The car has sunk, but Reacher doesn’t panic. He tells his fellow passenger in the back seat to “hold his breath” as he smashes the car window. The water rushes in, he swims out, and he is uncomfortable only that he is soaked to the skin.

Real-life: Real car accidents, so to speak, leave a big dent.

“A patient in a car who falls off a cliff before being immersed in water meets the criteria for injury and therefore needs to be transported to an emergency room,” says Perry.

He explains that patients involved in a high-speed crash can have invisible head injuries, abdominal injuries, bone fractures, and even, in some cases, damage to large blood vessels. This would require a very extensive examination in the emergency department with a CT scan of almost the entire body. And even if there is no serious bodily injury? Car accidents also cause mental trauma.

Injury, damage: Smoke/chemical inhalation

Burning chemical plant in the warehouse.

Reach time: He exits the building as it explodes behind him. Yes, and in an earlier episode, he had apparently previously been heavily smoked while serving in Iraq and was back on active duty “within 32 hours”.

Real-life: Weeks or more if tissue damage is severe. “Inhalation injuries can result in damage to the nose, throat, and lungs due to heat, smoke, or chemicals during a fire,” says Green. “Reacher was also exposed to chemicals for a long time, which could lead to dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath and coughing.”

Chemical poisoning will also require medication to help flush the poison out of the bloodstream, Perry said.

But wait, that’s not all: “Blast injury can include damage to the eardrum (pain, bleeding, hearing loss), organ damage (pain, internal bleeding), head trauma (another concussion), and broken bones,” says Greene. .

Fire burns may require a trip to the emergency room, wound care, or even hospitalization for surgery.

Injury, damage:Approximately a dozen strong blows with a crowbar, including on the head,then falls into an unconscious pool where he is held underwater and nearly drowns.

Reach time: Well, after all, he’s human-like that Reacher fights off his attacker, climbs out of the pool, and lies on his back for a minute or so to catch his breath before continuing his evening.

Real-life: Most of us would be dead.

“This scene is probably the most distrustful of his ability to keep fighting,” says Perry.

First, he lost consciousness, which is a guaranteed head injury (concussion – again – or worse). Meanwhile, he plunges into the pool.

“Even the best athlete can hold their breath for a minute or two in a normal situation, but in the middle of a fight, when your heart rate and adrenaline levels are high, the need to breathe will increase,” he said. Explains, “It might be more plausible for someone as physically fit as Reacher since he would be working on his lung capacity more than the average person, but people still need to breathe.”

If a patient is kept submerged to the point where they inhale water, Perry and his team will likely place them on a breathing apparatus. And filling your lungs with water can lead to longer-term problems like pneumonia. Bottom line: In real life, it would take Reacher more than a brief moment to regain his composure.

Potential healing secrets for Reacher? Physical fitness, training, and a clean lifestyle

Reacher has many years of military training and is a combat veteran. So he just didn’t get hit as hard as someone less fit, Greene says.

“Reacher parries a lot of direct hits and lands most of the hits rather than getting hit, distributing some of the force on his body to prevent injury,” she says, though she is concerned about the repetitive headbutts.

“This can become a problem for the character later in life, lead to memory loss, poor mental health, or possible movement disorders. Maybe it will show up in the fifth or sixth season,” she jokes.

Physical fitness and Reacher is an elite for that matter, helps even more, and that alone can be a motivator to get in better shape. Military studies have shown that people with poor cardiovascular or muscle endurance may be more prone to injury, while other studies show that obese people may have slower wound healing. One study older people who exercised regularly healed wounds by as much as 25%.

For all of us non-Reachers, the best way to optimize treatment is to optimize lifestyle,” says Arin Piramzadyan, MD, Emergency Medicine Specialist and Chief Medical Officer of StarMed Healthcare:

  • Follow a healthy diet: Prioritize leafy greens, rich in antioxidants and vitamins, as well as fruits and protein-rich foods like salmon, eggs, and grass-fed meats.
  • The exercise: For those just off the couch, try basic lunges, planks, push-ups, and jumps. “Any low-impact activity will help bring oxygen to wounds and speed up the healing process,” Piramzadyan explains.
  • Quit cigarettes: “Tobacco use constricts your blood vessels, making it harder for your body to get the therapeutic nutrients it needs,” says Piramzadyan. “It also limits the transfer of oxygen, which is essential for healing wounds and soft tissue injuries.”
  • Go easy on alcohol: “Alcohol increases swelling and inflammation, which can make the healing process take longer,” Piramzadyan explains. “This is because drinking alcohol thins the blood, causing it to flow faster and build up around injured areas.”
  • Thank you mom and dad “Differences in the cells that give skin firmness and strength during wound healing may explain why people heal differently,” says Piramzadyan.

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