Avera Medical Minute AMcK: ACL tear sidelines student athlete; journey to recovery after surgery

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears sideline more athletes than any other acute injury. Although recovery is a long journey, orthopedic surgeons at Avera have the tools to help athletes get back on the field.

Isaac Von Fischer’s high school sports career was cut short this past October. The Brookings High School senior takes us back to that night.

“Well I was running down the sideline with the ball and their safety came over, dove low at my legs, and my cleat stuck in the ground and something had to give -- so I guess it was my knee,” said Von Fischer.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Blake was there when it happened.

“Then all of a sudden he felt a pop in his knee and had pain in his knee. I saw him on the sideline; he had swelling in the knee, as well. So he was a contact athlete with a contact injury and he had an ACL tear because of it,” said Dr. Blake.

The ACL is there to help with rotational stability of the knee. Its function is critical for athletes.

“If you’re an athlete, you need to stop quickly, go quickly, as well as pivot quickly on the knee and that’s what the ACL allows you to do. If a person doesn’t have their ACL, their knee will buckle and give out on them,” said Dr. Blake.

Dr. Blake discussed with Isaac his options for reconstructing his ACL.

“The one that we did was using a bone of his kneecap as well as part of his patellar tendon and bone from his shin bone to help recreate the ACL and at the time, going in and repairing the meniscus,” said Dr. Blake.

“Surgery was tough -- a lot of laying on my back just knowing that my sports career was done,” said Isaac.

After surgery, Isaac’s road to recovery began with physical therapy, starting with getting his range of motion back.

“It’s about a six to nine month process to get somebody from surgery back into sport just to help retrain the body to walk, to retrain the muscles of the leg to move better as well as to get the size and muscle strength and coordination back from a surgery like this,” said Dr. Blake.

“When you look at the six months stretching out before you, that’s a long journey. But if you take it week by week and day by day when you’re saying ‘I did squats today’ -- that’s a huge step. And you just have to measure yourself, not by what you used to be, but what you’re building up to be,” said Isaac.

For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.