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An Athlete's First Question: 'Doc, When Can I Return?'
Date:2/25/2009

ually trying to recreate the ACL that the patient had prior to the injury."

Most often surgery is necessary to replace the ACL. It is important that athletes give their legs proper time to heal before returning to the sport in which they injured their knee. "This is a year-long recovery, but many young athletes do not understand this," explains Dr. Johnson. He often tells his patients to consider golfer Tiger Woods as an example.

Woods injured his ACL and has not returned to the game of golf since June 2008. "The reason you cannot return to playing after just a few months is because you do not have the strength back in your leg and the repaired ligament is not strong enough," said Dr. Johnson. "Coming back too early is a real problem and puts the athlete at a higher risk for re-injury."

Dr. Johnson says young athletes need to understand this fact in order to avoid further problems down the road. "Having two ACLs replaced by the time athletes are in high school is not uncommon," noted Dr. Johnson, "but once that happens, it is very unlikely their knees will ever be normal."

Note: This topic and other sports injuries will be the focus of a Media Briefing entitled: "Mastering the ACL and Other Sports Injuries," on Wednesday, February 25, in the Sands Expo Center, Venetian Hotel, Level One, Room 904 at 10:45am. Panelists include: Moderator: Darren L. Johnson, MD, James Andrews, MD, Freddie Fu, MD and Matt Matava, MD.

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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