Robert Griffin III was one of the most dynamic players during the 2012-2013 NFL season. He led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs while suffering from a concussion, an LCL injury and, finally, an ACL injury that ended his season. Hopefully this is not a sign of what the future holds for him.
What many people don't know is that since 2009, RGIII had already suffered three major knee injuries. In 2009, he tore his ACL and returned to finish his college career by winning the Heisman Trophy. (Check out the Athlete's Guide to the ACL.)
As someone who has already made a quick recovery, RGIII can be expected to be back on the field next year playing at the top of his game. Although it's not a sure bet, here are some aspects of his treatment and rehab that should promote a fast and full recovery.
Stem cell treatment is a cutting-edge procedure that involves injecting undifferentiated cells into an area to promote tissue growth and repair. Its effectiveness is not completely known, but results to date have been promising. It was reported that Adrian Peterson had stem cell treatment. Clearly he made an impressive recovery. (Learn how to Return From an ACL Injury the Adrian Peterson Way.)
RGIII had a repair of his lateral collateral ligament and a reconstruction of his anterior cruciate ligament. They both must repair completely, but they do so at different rates, typically ranging from six to 12 months.
While this process is taking place, supporting muscles can be strengthened to prepare for full activity. This is critical for a guy like RGIII, who is essentially a track star who plays football. He places immense stress on his knees when he decelerates and changes direction, so he must have sufficient strength to protect his ligaments before he even considers stepping onto the field.
Surgery causes swelling and pain. The incision must heal, immobilization causes stiffness and muscle size and strength are lost within 24 hours. The early phase of rehab focuses on restoration of range of motion and minimizing atrophy.
Once swelling has decreased, RGIII can start strengthening the muscles around his knee, especially his quadriceps. The surgery weakens the quads, and they must be strengthened before he can perform basic functions like walking, climbing stairs or jumping.
Once basic function is restored, RGIII must strengthen the muscles that will help him prevent future damage to his LCL and ACL. In particular, he will perform exercises such as Squats, Deadlifts, RDLs, Lateral Band Walks, Glute-Ham Raises, Hip Thrusts and Swings to work his glutes, hip abductors and hamstrings.
Finally, after full strength is restored, RGIII can begin field work, reacquainting his muscles with acceleration, deceleration, changes of direction and balance.
It is never known what challenges an athlete will confront during a rehab process. But RGIII has been through this before, so his mind will be right. It may be frustrating, but he has the motivation to endure the grueling rehab process. This is a slight setback in his career, but he will likely come out stronger and mentally tougher than before.
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