The three letters no athlete wants to hear. Anterior cruciate ligament. ACL. These letters have become the nightmare of any aspiring athlete in the high school, college, or professional level. In today’s world there are between 100,000 and 200,000 ACL tears per year and they are most exclusively concentrated towards athletes. Female athletes, unfortunately, are much more susceptible to ACL injuries, especially in women’s soccer and basketball.
When an ACL tear occurs most athletes hear a “pop” and experience instability within the knee which is sometimes accompanied by a strong burning sensation and instant swelling. Anyone who experiences any of these should see a trainer immediately after. An ACL can usually be determined by doing physical test but you can’t be sure until you have had a MRI and spoken with a doctor.
Unfortunately both authors of this article have experienced ACL injuries so we are pretty familiar with the process.
HOW DID YOU TEAR YOUR ACL?
Janae Grimm: I was at soccer practice doing a simple drill. I started breaking down to defend and felt my knee shift a little then just fell to the ground. It didn’t hurt at all but when I got up my knee felt unstable and I had a bad feeling in my stomach.
Conner Furu: “It was the 5th game of my senior [football] season vs Centralia. I was having the best game of my life. I was on track to have over 300 yards rushing when early in the third quarter I made a cut that I have made probably a thousand times. I felt a “pop” in the back of my knee and limped forward a few more yards and went to the ground.”
When you tear your ACL, surgery is inevitable. In our case, to repair the ACL you either have to take a cadaver or create a new ACL using part of your hamstring or patellar tendon. In both our cases we used a hamstring to create a new ACL. After surgery, regaining range of motion in your knee is tough, as is building back the muscle in your leg that you lost when you were essentially incapacitated for a week or so. Physical therapy is 3 days per week with exercises to do at home 2-3 times per day. Recovery time for a young developing athlete can be anywhere from 7-12 months. Because of enhancements in ACL surgery techniques most athletes can return to their sport with little to no limitations.
Were College plans affected by the Injury?
Janae Grimm: Fortunately, prior to starting my senior year of soccer, I had contacted the college I was interested in, Clark College, and invited the coach to watch me play. After a few months he contacted me and ask me to come practice with the team. After watching me play and seeing that I can hold my own for being my size, he told me he would like to recruit me for 2017. I verbally committed and was offered money. The only plan that was affected by my injury is how much I will receive, knowing I may have to redshirt my freshman year.
Conner Furu: Partially, because of the injury I have less options than I probably would’ve and it has caused some colleges to stop recruiting me to play football for their school. I am still undecided on where I will go next year.
By: Conner Furu and Janae Grimm