As a Board Certified Sports Medicine Physician, and former assistant physician to several New York sports teams such as the Jets and Islanders, the question of whether or not one of my patients is ready to return to action following their recovery from a major injury is at the top of my FAQ’s. Whether it is from the patient themselves or from a concerned coach or parent, it is a question that poses unique concerns for each case and must be handled in a manner that provides the best care and outcome for the patient.
The average timeline for return following injury does NOT apply to everyone which is why it is called an AVERAGE timeline. In the past year we have seen All-Pro NFL Running Back Adrian Peterson return from a torn ACL in 9 months AND run for over 2,000 yards on his surgically repaired knee, a career best. But during that same time we have also seen former NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls sit out over 12 months following the exact same injury, a torn ACL. Rose’s return to the court only brought about more questions as he seemed to lack the explosiveness he has displayed during his career, questions that won’t be answered anytime soon after he tragically tore his meniscus in his non-surgically repaired right knee. These are two prime examples of how even the same injury can be so very different in different patients.
Returning to Sports after Orthopaedic Surgery
The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) points out that returning to play following injury involves both physical and mental factors. To be able to return to your specific sport or activity at a similar pre-injury level takes physical and mental rehabilitation. Even if you are physically healed, if you don’t feel mentally capable of making the same sort of motions as you used to be able to, you should NOT return to action. This is often one of the more difficult aspects of recovery because it is human nature to be hesitant following a major injury. It is my goal to instill confidence in my patients that by following an individualized recovery plan they will be able to return to participating in the activity they love.
As an athlete myself, I understand the frustration with being sidelined by an injury. The goal of sports medicine, and my goal as a Board Certified Sports Medicine Physician, is to help athletes return to play as soon as possible AND at the same level prior to suffering the injury. This is why I ensure that my patients receive the best care for their sports injuries, from early diagnosis and treatment to comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation. A quick and effective rehab plan can enable a patient to recovery from injury both physically and mentally.