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Back in August, the New York Giants lost one of their starting cornerbacks, Terrell Thomas, for the entire season with a torn ACL. Thomas offered to share his rehab experience with STACK so that other young athletes could understand and appreciate the process of getting an injured player back on the field.
Below is our first report from Thomas on what it's like to rehab in the NFL.
STACK: Can you tell us about your injury—what actually happened on the field?
Terrell Thomas: I was coming on a blitz and my teammate's leg whipped me. I tore both my ACL and MCL. The MCL usually takes about three to four weeks to heal, and that's what I was hoping for; but unfortunately a torn ACL meant I needed surgery and that would end my season.
STACK: Where did you start with your rehab? What was the first session like in terms of how you could move?
Thomas: I went back to my old team doctor from USC. It's great—he knows me and my knee and where I want to be. The first session was basically me lying on a table and him massaging and stretching the knee. You can't force it or you could tear another ligament. The first week or two is about getting your extension and flexion back. It's basically just bending your knee.
STACK: Describe the mental challenge of going through rehab. What's the most difficult thing about it?
Thomas: The biggest challenge about rehab is that you're alone. No one can push you. You have to get better by yourself—no teamwork, no friends, no workout partners.
STACK: Can you talk more about the exercises you're doing to recover?
Thomas: As of now, just basically learning how to walk, squat and balance again. I was in a brace for three weeks straight, so my knee got really tight. I also do lots of quad work, which is the biggest part, because without quad strength, you lose balance and you'll have other injuries. Your body will naturally compensate.
STACK: What about your support system—your doctor, your rehab team? How have they been able to help you recover?
Thomas: Honestly, I feel I have the best support system, from my family, friends, agent, to my physical therapist and doctor. I chose to have Dr. Arthur Ting, who did my first ACL surgery, do my surgery again. It worked out the first time and he knew my knee.
I also choose Dr. John Meyer to be my therapist because, simply, he's the best. He's done wonders at USC, worked with Kobe Bryant and most important, he got me healthy after my first surgery. He kept me ahead of schedule the entire time with no setbacks or pain. You want clear, positive thoughts going forward, because it's a long, hard journey.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 of our exclusive on Terrell Thomas's rehab diary.