Student Commentary: Torn ACL Recovery Process

Liliauna Nichols

Each year 100,000 to 200,000 athletes tear their ACL in the U.S.. Your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the strong bands of tissue that helps connect your thigh bone to your shinbone. You can tear or strain this ligament and usually requires surgery to be fixed. This injury most commonly occurs during sports that involve sudden stops or changing in directions, jumping, and landing. Some examples of sports that require these movement are soccer, basketball, volleyball and football.

As someone who has torn their ACL, I can tell you firsthand it is a very painful injury. Many people hear or feel a “pop” when the injury occurs. I tore mine in a soccer game early into my sophomore season, and it ended my season. Whether you need surgery or not depends on the severity of the injury. Sometimes all you need is rest and physical therapy to recover other times you must have surgery to replace the ligament and that results in a lot of physical therapy.

The recovery process of a torn ACL can be very long. The average recovery time is six months to a year. It also results in physical therapy two to three times a week. I was very fortunate to recover very well, and I played soccer eight months after surgery. Not being able to play your sport for six months to a year can be very detrimental to your mental health.

For some people, their sport is their get away and the thing that brings them happiness. So, when this is taken from them and forbidden for months it can be very hard. You must find something else to fulfill that sport. For me, this was hanging out with friends and going to the gym.

Finding a good physical therapist is also crucial. You spend a lot of time with he or she so you must have a good connection. I was lucky enough to have Elliot Bickerstaff; he knew how to push me so that I had the recovery that I did but also made sure I was having fun.