Getting back in the game: recovering from an ACL

Darby Bevis playing soccer (Shelbourne Knee Center)
Jill Dickson

Sponsored Story By Shelbourne Knee Center

Anyone who enjoys sports and watches their favorite player fall to the ground, fears hearing that the player has a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament). It’s a very common sports injury that can be repaired and rehabbed in five to six months, with the proper treatment program. An ACL injury can happen to anyone, not just those who play sports, so it’s important to understand how key this ligament is to activity in everyday life.

ACL tears are very common sports injuries because of sudden pivot movements that occur often in soccer, gymnastics, and basketball. These tears and sprains are usually non-contact and happen at low speed, when the body is decelerating. This was the case when Darby Bevis, a soccer player from North Carolina, tore her ACL during a practice. She has just received the ball and was pivoting to kick it to a teammate. Darby knew there was something seriously wrong when she heard a pop, fell to the ground, and was not able to get to her feet again.

What happened to Darby?

When Darby tore her ACL, she tore one of the four ligaments in the knee that provides stabilization for the knee joint. A tear or a sprain occurs when a person suddenly changes their direction or pivots against a locked knee. A pop is heard, followed by pain and swelling of the knee, making weight bearing very difficult. It will be difficult to straighten the knee due to bleeding within the joint. If left untreated, the knee feels unstable and will be painful, especially when walking on uneven ground or climbing steps. Women are at a higher risk for ACL injuries that men, due to slightly different anatomies. Women have a wider pelvis than men, causing the femur to meet the tibia at a greater angle. This increases the force the ACL has to withstand, increasing risk of damage. Female muscles tend to be more elastic and decrease the protection that the hamstring muscles give the ACL.

Getting Darcy Back in the Game

Darby had never had a serious sports injury during her high school and travel soccer career and was making plans to play soccer in college. Recovery speed was very important to Darby and her family. After diagnosing the ACL tear, Darby’s sports chiropractor referred her to the Shelborne Knee Center, 600 miles away, in Indianapolis, Indiana. “He said that Dr. Shelbourne was the best of the best, and the only doctor he recommended,” says Darby.

Dr. Shelborne recommended an ACL reconstruction using a contralateral patellar tendon graft, the strongest graft available. First, Darby needed to start pre-op rehab to improve her range of motion (ROM). This pre-op rehab is a strategy that Dr. Shelborne has built his practice on. “If patients don’t have full ROM in the knee prior to surgery, getting full ROM back after surgery is compromised,” says Dr. Shelborne.

For Darby, this course of treatment has been so successful that she is starting to strengthen her legs, doing soccer drills only nine weeks after surgery. “it’s been really hard, but it gets easier each day,” says Darby. “Dr. Shelborne is really knowledgeable and the physical therapists are awesome!” Darby hopes to be cleared to return to soccer in May, five months after her reconstruction. In most cases, it takes a year for athletes to recover and return to sport.

Specializing in ACL Rehabilitation

At the Shelborne Knee Clinic, we only do knees – reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconditioning. We can help get you off the sidelines and back in the game, faster and with better, long-term outcome. Call 888-FIX-KNEE to speak with one of our specialists.