Olympic skier sustains multiple injuries to leg

February 28, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic surgeons

Olympic skier sustains multiple injuries to leg

On Feb. 5, spectators at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria saw Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn take quite a spill during the super-G event, tearing the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in her right knee and fracturing her tibia on the same side.

The 28-year-old skier shot over a hill and landed from the jump off-balance, which caused her right knee to twist and slam into the mountain, CNN reported. She then had to be airlifted to a hospital.

Vonn's doctor in Austria, Christian Kaulfersch, M.D., made a statement to the press that his patient did not need immediate reconstructive surgery, but did sustain various injuries in her right knee and lower leg. As of now, it is too soon to tell how the accident will affect her career.

While some significant ACL tears require reconstruction by orthopaedic surgeons, MCL tears typically heal on their own. What is most concerning to Vonn's doctor is that fracture to her tibial plateau. Although the recovery process may take some time, medical professionals do not think it will keep Vonn off the slopes in the future.

"Back in the 1970s and 1980s we'd call this a career-ender of an injury, because doctors back then didn't know how to fix it, but we have better techniques and more practice at it, so we now call this injury - even as horrific as it looked - a 'career delayer,'" said Jeffrey Webb, M.D., a professor orthopaedics and a sports medicine specialist, quoted by CNN.

Specialists estimate that it will take Vonn six to eight months to recover since she is a world-class athlete and already well-conditioned.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons, more than 124,000 skiers experienced injuries in 2011. 

Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine news & articles

More articles