Getting injured is part of athletics. It is rare to find an athlete that is injury free. If you take me as an example, I broke three bones, sprained my ankles and strained (pulled) muscles too many times during my scholastic, collegiate and professional athletic career. The thing I learned is the human body’s ability to heal is amazing. And when the injury does happen, we want the healing process to occur quickly. Injuries seem to happen at the most inconvenient time! But the truth of the matter is there is never a good time for an injury and we don’t get to pick the time when to get injured. One tip to a successful rehabilitation is being prepared mentally. You must be patient and committed to following the regiment of your athletic trainer, physical therapist and/or physicians, AND work hard to get back into top notch physical condition. Latly, understand your physical limitations until your medical professional indicates you have recovered 100% or you run the risk of recurring injuries.
A couple months ago, a high school athlete asked me for some stationary ball-handling drills while she was recovering from a knee injury. I was impressed with her dedication and perseverance, so with her permission, I have included her story of how she dealt with the mental and physical rehabilitation process. Here is her story.
In February of this year, I collided with a girl during a basketball game. As I went down, I hyper extended and twisted my knee. I spent the next three hours in the emergency ward only to have the doctor tell me that nothing was wrong with it. He told me I should just rest it for the next couple of days.
I found over the next week that I couldn’t straighten or bend it. We went to see a second doctor who recommended we see an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon told me that I had almost certainly torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), but he would not be able to confirm this without doing an arthroscopy. The ACL is the ligament that keeps the tibia (your shin bone) in the right place relative to your femur (your thigh bone). He suggested I undergo physiotherapy to see what sort of function my knee would return to. He also told me that if I did need a reconstruction of my ACL that I would be out of basketball for 9-12 months. This was not good news to me.
I went through a lot of physiotherapy, and it got to the point where I was beginning to think that the surgeon had been wrong and my ACL wasn’t torn. Within a month I had very good stability in my knee and no pain. I was given an ACL brace to wear during hard activities.
Unfortunately, just when I was getting really optimistic I had a big setback. During a pick up game with friends, I made a move to block a shot and my knee gave out under me when I landed. I was really disappointed. After that I knew that I wouldn’t be able to play without being scared of hurting my knee, so I would have to get it reconstructed.
In April, I had arthroscopic surgery, and the surgeon confirmed that I had stretched my ACL to the point where it wouldn’t function properly in high impact activities and that I would need the reconstruction unless I was willing to change my lifestyle completely. The good news was all my other ligaments and cartilage had not been damaged.
Leaving basketball isn’t an option for me. I can’t ever imagine not walking out onto the court again. The reconstruction is now scheduled and at this time I am still rehabilitating my knee from the scope. It is very important that my knee and the muscles in my leg are in excellent condition for surgery. When they replace the ACL with the hamstring tendons the measurement must be exact or my knee will never be 100%.
This has been devastating and hard to work through but I am slowly finding ways of reinventing my life. I am taking my pilot’s license, working at a rock climbing gym, and doing ball-handling drills to keep up on my basketball skills.