Patient: Mitch was a 21-year-old AFL footballer. During a boundary throw-in playing first-grade AFL he was hit from behind forcefully whilst in the air, knocked off balance and landed awkwardly, suffering a significant hyperextension/twisting injury to his knee.
Mitch was a 21-year-old AFL footballer when he felt his right ACL “go”. He was playing first grade in the Sydney competition as a “ruckman” with a height of 203cm. He was also a representative elite Basketballer. During a boundary throw-in playing first-grade AFL he was hit from behind forcefully whilst in the air, knocked off balance and landed awkwardly, suffering a significant hyperextension/twisting injury to his knee.
He went to his physiotherapist, who suspected an ACL injury. After an MRI and a visit to a sports physician, it was clear that Mitch’s ACL had been ruptured, and there was damage to his meniscus.
Mitch’s older sister had suffered her own ACL injuries as a basketballer. She had experienced two ACL surgeries on the same knee, and had stopped playing basketball for fear of further knee injury.
With this in mind, Mitch found the non-surgical approach to healing his ACL appealing. His ACL injury was classified on MRI imaging by his Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician to be a suitable candidate for the novel Cross Bracing Protocol criteria. He reasoned that if he tried to heal via the bracing protocol and it didn’t work, the worst-case scenario was that he would lose three months in a brace before continuing with the surgery option. The primary intention was to “facilitate the healing of the ACL”. Mitch was also advised that the meniscal tear may require an arthrocopy after the Cross Bracing Protocol if this injury was symptomatic.
During the first four weeks of bracing, what he found hardest was moving around. As he had injured his right ACL, he couldn’t drive, so had to rely on trains and buses. He did his own rehab every day, and caught public transport to the physio a few times a week. It was good to get his brace checked, but the head-space check-in was also worthwhile.
Advice Mitch gives to others:
Stay consistent with your rehab – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Keep going to the gym to work on your upper body and your uninjured leg.
Take stairs one at a time – don’t be over-confident with your crutches.
Reach out to friends and family – don’t do it on your own.
Mitch is back playing competitive AFL. He doesn’t even think about his knee when on the field. He says it was well worth going with the novel bracing approach before concluding “I wouldn’t be competing at the level I am now if I didn’t do the Cross Bracing Protocol.”
WELCOME TO HEAL ACL. A COUPLE OF THINGS TO NOTE...
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