I'm sure anyone watching the Superbowl this year (yes, even Patriots fans) were shocked to see Giants Tight End Travis Beckum tear his ACL on national television suddenly. While running his route, Beckum ran into a defender and hit the ground.
Now I'm a Patriots fan, and initially this seemed promising. The Giants love to have two Tight Ends on the field at all times. The fan in me hoped that he would be sidelined until the fourth quarter and the Patriots defense could focus on stopping the talented Giants recievers until then. But the longer Beckum stayed on the ground, the worse I felt.
I like to think that no one wants to see an opponent get hurt. Sometimes it's a consequence of the games that these athletes play. A baseball pitcher will probably injure his elbow or shoulder at some point in his career. A basketball player seems to be asking for a bad ankle or a reconstructed knee. But considering how often football players keep on trucking with bruises, sprains, and cramps, it is truly upsetting to see one of them down on the turf for an extended period of time.
Experts are saying Beckum might not play again until October (8 months from now). He's going to have reconstructive surgery and go through a period of rest and then extensive and challenging rehab. He might be able to regain full flexibility and strength, but he might never be able to play at the same level.
So, why did I choose to post about Travis Beckum? Well, this issue is much larger than him. Beckum may have the most-watched-live torn ACL in recent memory, but this is a problem that haunts professional athletes. Recently, the Boston Celtics suffered a similar setback when forward Jeff Green lost his entire season to a torn ACL. He also won't be able to return to basketball until the beginning of the preseason, essentially losing an entire year of practice and improvement.
Tom Brady famously tore his ACL in the first game of the 2008 NFL season. Tiger Woods played for ten months on a torn ACL in his left knee. He had surgery on it during the 2008 PGA Tour season and didn't return to golf until 2009.
What can we learn about these famous athletes and this common injury? Hopefully it can shed some light on the fact that the ACL injury is rising in frequency among non-professional athletes, particularly among America's youth. While this may be indicative of increased phsyical activity (40 million children participate in organized sports) it can also be a sign of increased risk. According to an ABC world news article published in 2011
, ACL tears in children under the age of 18 have increased 400% in the last decade.
How should you look out for signs of injured ACLs in ourselves and your children? I found that Knee1 has a helpful section on the ACL
. It is equally important to look out for signs of sprains and partial tears. If you can nip it in the bud early enough (by consulting a doctor for an x-ray or a soft-tissue mri) you can prevent the partial tear from becoming complete.