Recently, while playing in the New York Giants’ third preseason game against the New York Jets, safety Stevie Brown hurt his knee while intercepting a pass. An MRI later revealed the injury to be a torn ACL, an injury that generally occurs with sports that involve quick pivoting and lateral movements—like football. The ACL is a piece of tissue that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and keeps the knee stable with twisting and side-to-side movements. The ACL is unique in that it does not repair itself, even with rest and physical therapy. Like most ACL injuries, Stevie Brown’s tear was a complete tear, and if left torn, there would be little chance he would ever return to football. Without an ACL most people who participate in sports describe feelings of instability and feel they cannot perform at their optimal level. For this reason, nearly all professional athletes and most active individuals opt to reconstruct the ACL using surgery, which is what Stevie Brown elected to do.

A few weeks after the injury, Stevie Brown had ACL surgery in Florida. Because the ACL does not heal, it has to be reconstructed from a new piece of tissue. Brown’s surgeon harvested the central one-third portion of Brown’s patellar tendon and secured it in place of the ACL using screws. Although the patellar tendon is considered the “gold standard” by many orthopedic surgeons because of its strong initial fixation, there are other graft options available such as cadaver grafts and hamstrings grafts. If you are electing to have ACL reconstruction surgery, you and your surgeon can decide what type of graft to use based on your lifestyle, preference, and your surgeon’s skill with different grafts.

Though Brown’s surgical procedure was successful, it will still take a lot of hard work to rehabilitate the knee and gain back the strength, speed, and quickness needed to succeed on the football field. Dr. Millstein recommends working consistently with a trained physical therapist after the first month post-operation in order to retrain and strengthen the leg muscles and improve the mobility of the knee joint.

Fortunately, with the advanced surgical procedures available today and a scrupulous rehabilitation regimen, an ACL tear does not have to be an injury that ends your athletic pursuits. Dr. Millstein is an expert in reconstructing ACLs using all graft types and has experience working with patients from a wide variety of ages and athletic abilities. If you have torn your ACL and want to discuss your options, or if you want a second opinion, schedule a consultation with Dr. Millstein today.

Dr. Millstein

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