An Athlete’s Worst Nightmare

Derrick Rose's Torn ACL

Derrick Rose tearing his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in the Chicago Bull’s contest against the Philadelphia 76ers (2012)

The time has passed when an athlete suffering from a torn ACL cannot return to the arena of competition. Thus, I find it essential that every athlete be completely aware of this new and innovative recovery process for a torn ACL. With all of these enhancements in medicine, surgery, and therapy, the rehabilitation in which an athlete endures after surgery has efficiently become more productive.

In the image above, by the John Starks, displayed is Derrick Rose, starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA (National Basketball Association). Rose unfortunately tore his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in the Chicago Bulls contest against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday April 28th, 2012 in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs. When coming down awkwardly from a jump shot, collapsing to the basketball court while grabbing his knee, Rose only managed to find three words. “My knee hurts”, Rose screamed. Although the Bulls managed to win, it was certain that they had lost their superstar point-guard for the rest of the playoffs. However, through proper surgery, rehab, and therapy, Rose has returned for this year’s 2013 NBA Season. Absolutely remarkable!

Today where many ACL surgeries generally involve the replacement of the torn ligament with a tendon from another part of the knee or leg, many medications are consisted of analgesics. In addition to advancements in medicine and surgery, therapy now effectively targets regaining full range of motion in the knee, which then rebuilds strength in the knee along with stability. As a result, the recovery time of an athlete with a torn ACL is phenomenal compared to that of its past. I’ll be presenting professional athletes such as Adrian Peterson and Derrick Rose and their recovery process after tearing their ACL.  A torn ACL is noticeably the most common athletic injury in sports.

“So, what exactly is a torn ACL?” In your knee reside four major ligaments, dense tissue that connects bones to other bones to form joints. You have two collateral ligaments on the side of your knee, MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament). The MCL is found on the inside of the knee and your LCL is found on the outside of the knee. Collateral ligaments, as described, control the sideways motion of your knee. Thus shuffling from side to side, would be an exemplary example of your collateral ligaments being primarily utilized.

Then you have your last two of the four ligaments, your cruciate ligaments. Your cruciate ligaments reside within your knee, with your PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) being found on the back of your knee and ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in the front. Opposite to the function of our collateral ligaments, the cruciate ligaments are responsible for the frontward and backward motions of the knee. As a result, a torn ACL restricts your ability to run in straight line and absorb the impact of landing when you jump. Yet the level of pain that an athlete endures when suffering from a torn ACL is indescribable.

Many high-profile professional athletes have increased the awareness of a torn ACL. A torn ACL is one of the most popular athletic injuries in worldwide-sports today.  All-Pro starting running back for the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson, once suffered from of a torn ACL. Although, after undergoing surgery and intense rehabilitation, Adrian Peterson also returned the very next season and dominated the competition! Adrian Peterson returned the next season to only come a few yards short of breaking the NFL (National Football League) single-season rushing yards record.

“What sports don’t involve you running or jumping?” Torn ACLs aren’t subject to just one or a few sports, but recognized as a universal injury amongst all sports. It ranges from: baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, cheerleading, tennis, soccer, volleyball, etc. You can name just about any sport that is physically demanding, and with that sport accompanies a possibility of you tearing your ACL. Often a torn ACL is associated with contact sports, but it’s also present in noncontact sports.  Even though a torn ACL is more prevalent in some sports than others, the fact that it exist in a majority of sports is not a question. All sports potentially contain a component that requires you to either run or jump. For this reason, it’s challenging for anyone to argue that a torn ACL is irrelevant.

With the first repair of a torn ACL taking place in 1917 by Hay Groves, the recovery of an athlete with a torn ACL has come close to “century’s worth of upgrading” than what it used to be. According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, roughly 150,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States every year (Coleman). American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine also states that ACL injuries account for more than a $500 million in U.S. health-care costs each year (Coleman). The amount of publicity a professional athlete receives during the recovery process of a torn ACL exceeds that of any other sports related injury today. Together, I can supportively state that a torn ACL is noticeably the most common athletic injury in sports.  You can ask just about any athlete, and they will tell you, “A torn ACL is an athlete’s worst nightmare”.


Starks, John. 2012. The Daily Herald via Associated Press. The Denver Post. Web. 24 Oct 2013.


Coleman, Erin. “Statistics on ACL Injuries in Athletes.” Livestrong. 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.

Geier, David. “ACL Tears.” Dr. David Geier Enterprises, n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.

Johnson, Don. The ACL Made Simple. New York: Springer, 2004. Print.

Leggio, Marie. “My Knee Hurts: Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose Knee Injury Torn ACL.” MyKneeHurts. My Knee Hurts. 22 April 2012. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.

OrthoInfo. “Collateral Ligament Injuries.” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.


ESPNAmerica. “NFL: Peterson’s road to recovery.” Youtube. 20 May 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.