ACL recovery efforts return some athletes to the field

May 28, 2013

Topic: injury prevention

New data from Sherine Gabriel, M.D., and others, conducted in the Netherlands, has been released, stating that there is a way to estimate rheumatoid arthritis patients' risk for cardiovascular disease.

In the past, an anterior cruciate ligament injury was an athlete's worst nightmare, as tearing the ligament could be the end of his or her career. Now, ACL injuries may only sideline certain athletes for a season. 

ACL injuries are typically caused when an individual suddenly twists his or her knee when landing from a jump or stepping wrongly. Young women have an increased likelihood to suffer the mishap compared to men due to the anatomic structure of their hips. The National Institutes of Health recommends that athletes who play high-contact sports, like football and basketball, utilize injury prevention techniques, such as landing on the balls of their feet, to avoid potential tears. 

In the event of an ACL tear, orthopaedic surgeons will recommend reconstructive surgery and physical therapy, or rehabilitation efforts alone. 

Anything is possible
While many athletes are lucky if they could play again after suffering an ACL injury, a few may be able to endure multiple mishaps and still get back on the field after each one, Newsday reported. This was the case for Michael Mauti, former linebacker for Penn State. The football player has undergone three reconstructions in the last five years and was drafted to play for the Minnesota Vikings this upcoming season. 

Innovative technology has played a major role in rehabilitation. For instance, patients can use underwater treadmills, which can reduce a person's body weight by 25 percent, as well as treadmills that work on zero gravity until they are ready to run on solid ground. 

In addition to using advanced physical therapy equipment, James Andrews, M.D., of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, has performed successful surgeries on countless professional athletes. The renowned surgeon stresses that these miracle recoveries are a big deal.

"The last thing I'd want people to be thinking is people are coming back quicker and quicker," said Andrews, quoted by the news source. "The few individuals that you know of who have come back quickly are what I call 'superhuman' athletes ... There are only a few of those superhuman athletes out there. Their healing potential for some reason is much better than the average patient, but you can't extrapolate their ability to come back from an injury to the average athlete."

While athletes cannot always bank on the fact that surgery and rehabilitation will restore their ability to return to their respective sports, there is always a chance. 

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