Doctor talks ACL recovery as Revis prepares for surgery

Darrelle Revis tore his ACL in the third quarter of the game against the Dolphins.

It’s highly unlikely Darrelle Revis will be able to return this season, but the Jets have still yet to place the All-Pro corner on injured reserve.

Dr. James L. Carey is director of the Penn Center for Advanced Cartilage Repair at the University of Pennsylvania and he has performed a number of ACL surgeries on professional athletes similar to the one Revis will undergo shortly. He will not take part in the surgery for Revis.

“About 12 percent to 15 percent of my surgical cases each year are elite athletes,” Carey told Metro. “Their recovery time is typically 4 1/2 months to six months. Elite athletes typically recover quite well, because of the skilled athletic trainers and physical therapists that work with them daily.”

A picture surfaced on Twitter of Revis working out on an exercise bicycle, creating speculation that he could return to the field sooner rather than later.

It’s all part of the pre-surgery routine says Carey.

“For the weeks leading up to surgical reconstruction, the athlete works on an ACL ‘pre-hab’ protocol, which emphasizes quadriceps strengthening, regaining near normal range of motion and gait training,” Carey said.

“For surgery, the ruptured ACL is removed and replaced with an ACL graft (replacement). There are a half dozen commonly used graft choices. There is no perfect answer. However, for young, elite athletes, this graft is most commonly a narrow strip of patellar tendon from the patient’s own knee.”

The question now is not only if and when can Revis come back, but how good will he be when he returns.

Six years ago, Carey was part of a national study that appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine that analyzed ACL injuries in NFL running backs and wide receivers, a group that physically would be similar in build to Revis. A total of 31 players and 33 ACL injuries were analyzed and the results provide some caution for Jets fans hoping for a Revis return.

From the study, it was found that 21 percent of all players who had an ACL injury did not return to the field and from the remaining 79 percent it took anywhere from nine to 12 months to recover.

Utilizing power ratings, the study determined that performance after surgery fell by one-third. The study cited “knee pain, stiffness, loss of strength, deconditioning and reduced proprioception (the sense of knowing where your leg is)” as major reasons why a player would suffer a post-injury decline in production. But at least  in terms of another injury, the odds of Revis suffering another ACL tear are not terribly high.

“In general, the probability of ACL graft re-rupture is about three to five percent,” Carey said.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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