If you coach long enough you’re going to deal with a serious injury to an athlete. I have several athletes that I’m working with right now who are returning from acute catastrophic injuries. Two of them came to me with the injuries looking for help and the other one, Jade Ellis, had been with me prior to the injury. Each athlete was competing at a very high level prior to the injury and wants to make a return to (or exceed) previous levels. I thought it might be helpful to detail what I was doing in each case to give some food for thought on what can be done in similar situations. This will be the first of a four part series on these athletes and the planned progression to return them to full capacity.
As mentioned I’m going to look at three athletes:
- The first is a professional soccer player who is returning from a broken fibula. Not a stress related break like we often see in distance runners but a complete fracture that required the insertion of hardware to stabilize the bone. The injury occurred as a result of hard tackle. Now normally, the fibula is left alone and mobilized to heal. In many cases, the person can even get away without a cast since the fibula is a non-weight bearing bone. In this case the athlete’s fracture was serious enough and in a location where the doctors thought that supporting hardware would be beneficial. The surgery went ok but the athlete now has very limited mobility in the ankle, especially dorsiflexion, that prevents him from running smoothly. He started training with me after he had just been cleared for light impact activities.
- The second athlete is a high school football player who had a complete rupture of his ACL, MCL, and LCL, partial rupture (80%) of his PCL, and tore the hamstring tendon off of the bone. The injury occurred as a result of taking a collision to the knee and having the foot ‘stick’ to the ground. He had surgery to repair the hamstring tendon, ACL, MCL, and LCL and then PCL was allowed to repair on its own with the help of platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. For those of you without a background in anatomy, that pretty much qualifies as a complete reconstruction of one of the most complex joints in the human body. The ACL is the ligament located in the center of the knee, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia; the PCL is likewise located in the center of the knee and it controls backward movement of the tibia; the MCL sits laterally on the knee and provides stability to the inner knee; and the LCL sits medially and gives stability to the outer knee.
- The final athlete is Jade Ellis. Jade ruptured his Achilles tendon while running down the runway for a long jump in his season opening competition of the 2010 indoor season. He had already put out some big jumps in the competition. It was his second Achilles rupture (first on this side) and he’d returned successfully from the previous one following surgical intervention. In this case (detailed here), Jade didn’t have surgery but is undergoing PRP therapy and has begun very slow jogging and weight lifting.
Stay tuned for the upcoming blog entries as I detail each individual athlete and either what I’ve done, what modifications were necessary or what I plan to do.