Sports medicine


2013-03-11T20:00:00Z 2013-03-11T21:01:21Z JOHN DOHERTY: ABCs of ACL lost in NBABy John Doherty Times Correspondent
March 11, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

Basketball certainly is a contact sport — and that's just in the sports section of the newspaper. The verbal jousting of late has been as bad as I've seen — and that's just among members of the same team.

I refer, of course, to the current state of affairs to what once again could be referred to as the “Madhouse on Madison.” The United Center may be the home of the Chicago Bulls but it is certainly not a happy one.

They may be one team but media reports refer to “camps” within that team, specifically management's and Derrick Rose's. And the vast gulf between the two sides is over a tiny but vital piece of tissue in Rose's left knee, his reconstructed anterior cruciate ligament.

Cleared for full participation in practice last month, Rose apparently doesn't feel quite ready to try the knee in a game. And the grumbling from the “management” side has started. Not being the least bit shy, Rose's older brother, Reggie, has countered that the team has failed to assemble the necessary pieces to help Derrick win a championship.

Let's leave emotion aside, though, and separate fiction from the truth of ACL tear and recovery.

First, Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson did not come back from his injury in six months. It was eight months — which is a major exception to the rule. The typical recovery time is a year — or longer. It just is.

The same day Rose suffered his mishap, so did New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. At the time, the Knicks predicted he would be back in 6-8 months. He didn't quite make it, with the guard making his season debut on January 17, 8 ½ months after his surgery. Since then, he has performed nowhere near the level he did a season ago. In 2011-12, over the course of 59 games, he averaged 28.9 minutes, 9.5 points, and 2.8 assists per game. Through 23 games this season, he is averaging 20.1 minutes, 5.0 points, and 1.3 assists. Neither Shumpert nor Knicks Coach Mike Woodson argue with what the statistics make so clear.

A closer look at Adrian Peterson's statistics actually tells a similar tale. Even though he came within eight yards of breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time NFL rushing record, he exceeded 100 yards only once in his first six games.

Is that what the Bulls – and their fans – want? A significantly sub-par Rose?

Even if he doesn't return until next year, Rose may never perform again at pre-injury levels.

Depending on the study cited in an editorial in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, between 20 and 37 percent of NFL football players who undergo ACL reconstruction never return to their prior level of play.

Among a larger and less elite population of athletes, the numbers aren't any better, actually a little worse. Ultimately, two-thirds claim to feel as good as they did before being injured. However, only 44 percent return to competitive sports and at the 12-month mark, only 1/3 are back to pre-injury levels.

Sobering numbers that should calm the clamor for Rose to return so rapidly.


John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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