LAFAYETTE, La. — The doctors who have been consulting with Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze’s recovery from back surgery were cautious about him sitting upright for an entire game. The ideal situation would be for him to sit upright for a half, be able to recline during halftime, and then sit up for the second half.
It was during those meetings that the Liberty procurement office was contacted to find and purchase a medical chair that could serve those needs for Freeze. And the office moved quickly.
Liberty purchased the MediLuxe MD4-2000 Deluxe Treatment Chair during the middle of the week and shipped it from Maryland to Louisiana, where it was placed in the Cajun Field visiting coaches’ booth Friday morning.
Freeze coached in the chair in the Flames’ first road game of the season against Louisiana on Saturday.
“It all started with the medical professionals in terms of his need to have a chair that can recline all the way back. That’s where it really began,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said. “Coach Freeze has been getting directions from the physicians that have been caring for him, and having the ability for him to lie flat on his back was important. The medical chair that Liberty purchased allows him to either sit up or lie back.”
Freeze, 49, flew from Lynchburg to Lafayette on Saturday afternoon and arrived at Cajun Field about one hour prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. He used a walker, instead of a wheelchair like he did last week, to get into the coaches’ booth.
“He’s feeling much better than he did a week ago,” McCaw said. “I think this is a much better situation for him to operate out of a medical chair than to operate out of a hospital bed. It’s a step forward, and hopefully he’ll continue to make progress.”
Freeze’s Liberty coaching debut last weekend garnered national attention as he laid in a hospital bed and called plays from the home coaches’ booth at Williams Stadium against Syracuse.
The Friday news of the university’s purchase of the medical chair also generated national buzz as Freeze continues to recover from back surgery for a staph infection Aug. 16 at the University of Virginia Medical Center, almost one week after he began experiencing severe back spasms.
The chair cost the university about $3,800, according to Liberty senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer Todd Patulski, and it will be transported back to Lynchburg in the football team’s equipment truck.
“We plan on having the medical chair available in the press box for the Buffalo game if Coach Freeze needs it,” McCaw said.
It also will be available for the two home games that follow against Hampton and New Mexico, if Freeze has the need for it.
“We’re anxious to have him back on the practice field soon and back to the sidelines where he belongs,” McCaw said.
Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.