AZOPT Follow Up: Rehabbing Major Knee Injuries

ACL injuries are a scary thing to see when they happen to athletes on television.  We see them writhing in pain, clutching their leg with tears rolling down their face.  An ACL injury to an athlete is season ending, potentially even career ending.  The rehabilitation is gruesome, tedious, and long.  But professional athletes have teams of doctors, physical therapists, trainers, and coaches to help them get back to 100 percent.  Not to mention their rehabilitation becomes a full time job.  That’s why, over time, most athletes bounce back from major ACL injuries. 

What about the common, middle-aged, weekend athlete?  In February, we posted an article Everyday People: Rehabbing Major Knee Injuries with AZOPT.  In that blog we met Josh, who suffered a grade 3 tear of his ACL and MCL, along with torn meniscus and bone bruising while practicing Judo with another adult in his son’s class.  A 35 year old father of three, Josh was an active person who participated in CrossFit, Judo, bike riding, and golf.  Josh had successful surgery on January 14, 2013 to repair his torn ACL, and he began physical therapy at AZOPT on January 23, 2013 with Ryann Roberts, DPT and Owner.

We interviewed Josh upon completion of his physical therapy March 8, 2013:

Your first appointment following surgery was January 23, your last March 8.  What was the focus of your rehabilitation during that time?

I attended physical therapy three times per week during that time.  We focused on strengthening, stretching, and balancing.  Strengthening exercises included squats, first with both legs, and then one leg at a time.  I also did various lunges and calf raises.  Stretching exercises were aimed at regaining range of motion with physical manipulations, static holds, and soft tissue massages.  The balancing exercises helped improve coordination by standing on one leg and throwing objects, or rocking on a tilted surface.  With going to physical therapy three times each week, I was pretty sore.  At home I tried to get good rest and kept up with stretching exercises Ryann had given me.

How helpful was physical therapy?

Physical therapy was very helpful as the first part of my recovery process.  Physical therapy took me from barely being able to walk to now (May 1) re-entering CrossFit and engaging in fairly rigorous physical activity.

On March 8, at your last physical therapy appointment, how far along were you in your complete rehab?

My rehab was progressing along nicely.  I had just been cleared to return to jogging and strengthening exercises, but not athletic type movements.  At the time, I felt I was ready to go off on my own and continue to rehab.  Ryann had given me a thorough home exercise program that included strengthening, stretching, and balance exercises. 

As of today, how far along are you in your rehab process?

My doctor has just cleared me to gradually return to sport-like activities.  I am participating in a form of modified CrossFit.  My doctor has just cautioned me to proceed slowly as my strength and coordination return.

What do you feel, if any, is the difference in rehabbing your knee with Ryann as oppose to anywhere else?

Ryann was an excellent fit for me.  His own athletic background gave him a unique perspective to appreciate my goals.  His more than capable oversight helped me achieve my best recovery possible.  My doctor has told me my knee represents their hope in all patients and is a best-case scenario. 

In our first article, we talked about your mental state and how faith has played an important role in accepting this injury and moving forward.  Having gone through the rehab now, what can you tell others about your experience?

The last seven months have been an unexpected sequence of events beginning with my injury then dealing with the consequences of the injury including doctor’s appointments, rest, rehab, surgery, more rehab, etc.  Each of these has been accompanied with frustration, inconvenience, monetary expenditure, and physical pain and discomfort.   That is the honest reality of getting your leg snapped in two.  However, with that said, the thing that stands out most clearly is how fortunate I am.  God has been good to me.  I have received constant love, care, and encouragement from my family.  I was blessed to receive exceptional medical care from my doctor and the team over at AZOPT, and I have been blessed by the time and place I live so that I now have a reconstructed knee.  Think about how incredible this is.  Doctors used a portion of my hamstring muscle to recreate ligaments in my knee and because there were only minor incisions paired with modern medical techniques I will have a knee capable of returning to play in the NFL–pretty good for a middle-aged guy who is just trying to keep in shape and have an active life with my kids!  I have a lot of which to be thankful.