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Wednesday, September 6th 2006

Illness In The Locker Room

I’ve linked to this before. Starting USC Trojan free safety has torn his acl and is out for the season.

Josh Pinkard In Better Times (i.e. Minutes Before His Accident)

So what the devil is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament?

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words…Or Something

Unfortunately the ACL cannot be “repaired” it has to be replaced.

Successful ACL reconstruction is dependent on a number of factors, including surgical technique, post-operative rehabilitation and associated secondary ligament instability. Today, ACL reconstruction is usually performed with arthroscopic assistance. The surgeon uses a graft, to replace the torn ACL. The graft may be taken from elsewhere in the patient’s extremity (autograft), harvested from a cadaver (allograft) or may be synthetic.

Although Pinkard won’t be able to enjoy it there is new hope about being able to repair the ACL break without clearing it out and replacing it.

The idea is to promote healing by building a kind of bridge to connect the two halves of a torn ACL. The bridge keeps fluids in the knee from washing away repair cells, says orthopaedic surgeon Martha M. Murray, MD, head of the sports medicine research lab at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

“The repair cells are looking for a place to go and heal, but they get lost in the fluid,” Murray says. “We developed a collagen bridge to give the cells a place to crawl into and be happy and functionally heal. With this bridge, the cells just go crazy. We found that to be incredibly exciting.”

While the technique is exciting, it’s still experimental. Murray’s team is still experimenting in animals. Human tests are years away. Why? It’s still not clear how well the healing works. If the ACL doesn’t heal back to full strength, it could suddenly give way.

Adam Kasley details his ACL surgery and recovery over at his blog. This made shed some light on what Pinkard faces in the coming weeks.

The following Monday I had a physical therapy appointment and learned some simple exercises. They’re hard to do and quite painful, but if you don’t stick with them you won’t fully recover.

I’m on crutches for about three weeks. The recovery and movement is progressive. At first I had a brace that was locked straight. After a few days I was able to unlock the hinge and sit with my knee slightly bent, but when I walked I had to have the hinge locked. Now the hinge is unlocked all the time and I don’t need to wear the brace while I sleep. Each new step causes all sorts of new aches and pains. One of my PT exercises is the indicator of when I’m done with the crutches. When I’m able to complete the exercise, my leg is strong enough to ditch the crutches.

I’ll need to wear the brace for 4-6 weeks from the date of the surgery. As soon as I can walk without crutches without a limp, I can take the brace off.

It will be 6-9 months from the date of the surgery before I can play sports again. I can expect my knee to swell up at random times for no apparent reason for the next 2-3 months.

I wish Pinkard a safe and quick recovery.