Professional sports are synonymous with intense pressure and competitiveness, driving athletes to constantly exceed their physical boundaries. However, this relentless pursuit of victory often exposes them to the risk of severe injuries, particularly concerning their joints.
Among these injuries, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries stand out as one of the most prevalent in the realm of professional athletics. Despite the gravity of ACL injuries, it's crucial to note that they are manageable and treatable, allowing athletes to recover and return to their sport with proper medical care and rehabilitation.
These inspiring recovery stories from professional athletes showcase the remarkable effectiveness of ACL treatment.
Adrian Peterson: One of the most notable recovery stories is from Adrian Peterson, an NFL running back for the Vikings. In 2011, Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL. Many believed this to be the end of his football career, but with the help of his orthopedic team, it wasn’t. Peterson made a miraculous recovery and returned the following season, nearly breaking the NFL record for rushing yards. Peterson’s story is a testament that anything is possible on your road to recovery.
Tom Brady: In the first game of the 2008 NFL season, Tom Brady obtained both ACL and MCL injuries following a tackle from the other team. Although that 2008 season was over for Brady, this was only the start of his football career. Brady underwent surgery on his affected knee and got back on the field the following season. His injury didn’t stop him from unanimously being awarded MVP in 2010 and winning four Super Bowls in the following years.
Lindsey Vonn: World-renowned alpine skier, Lindsey Vonn sustained a few ACL injuries throughout her career. The first injury was in early 2013 when she landed awkwardly, resulting in an ACL tear, MCL tear, and a knee fracture. After a long recovery, she attempted to get back on the slopes in late 2013 but she sustained another ACL injury, preventing her from participating in the rest of the 2013 season and the entirety of the 2014 season. But this was far from the end of her career. Vonn returned in 2015, winning her second race back in the Women’s World Cup and eventually becoming the world record holder of most World Cup career wins in 2016.
Megan Rapinoe: One of the best American soccer players, Megan Rapinoe is no stranger to ACL injuries. Rapinoe suffered three ACL injuries during her career, in 2006, 2007, and 2015. Following each injury, Rapinoe got surgery and underwent extensive rehabilitation to ensure she could continue her career in soccer. Her recovery paid off each time as she went on to win gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and placed second in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Derrick Rose: Point guard for the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, tore his ACL in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Rose had ACL surgery and took a year off to fully recover. He returned to the court in 2013 and continued his successful career in basketball, scoring a career-high 50 points in a single game in 2018.
Each of these player’s stories serves as evidence of the effect that sports medicine can have in professional sports. Without surgical intervention and intensive physical therapy, these professional athletes would have ended their careers. Embrace their journey and proactively pursue recovery if you face an ACL injury.
AUTHOR: Dr. Anup Shah is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Sports Medicine Orthopedic surgeon specializing in Knee and Shoulder Surgery in Phoenix, Arizona at Banner Health. Dr. Shah uses a patient-centric and an evidence-based approach to help his patients achieve their desired goals.