Derrick Rose was the youngest NBA MVP in 2010-2011 and the star of the new era Chicago Bulls. He was set to conquer the game and take the game to new heights. Then game 1 of the 2011-12 playoffs against the Sixers happened. Rose blew his knee and suffered a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Rose joins a list of NBA stars, that include Al Harrington, Al Jefferson, Baron Davis, and Kyle Lowry, who suffered a career-threatening injury.

You play for a local club in London. During practice, you went down on the floor, and like so many scenes that came before, you were clutching your knee while grimacing in pain and agony. Immediately, everyone, including yourself, feared that it might be a torn ACL. It was. NBA athletes have access to the best doctors, private hospitals with open MRI equipment, and rehab facilities. How do you recover from it? How do you overcome an ACL injury?

Here are a few things that you need to focus on:

A Brief Background of ACL

The ACL is usually the ligament in the knee that gets injured. The estimate is that 100,000 to 200,000 people suffer from an ACL injury annually in the USA. When you typically feel a “popping” sensation in your knee, followed by severe pain, and then swelling, which prevents you from continuing an activity, you just tore your ACL.

Around 81% of athletes return to competitive sports following an ACL surgery, according to the Journal of Sports Medicine, but only 55% come back at the same elite level before their injury.

ACL Injury

What Can You Do?

We would hear high-performance athletes talk about the importance of overcoming mental angst brought about by the injury. If you’re paid hundreds of millions of dollars to play, it can be unsettling to go through a yearlong process of recovery. You’re just a regular guy who loves sports, but here are a few things to remember about your ACL injury and the recovery process:

  1. Prepare yourself mentally. Part of that preparation is acceptance. There’s no use in dealing with the ifs and what-could-have-been. Accept the fact that you’re injured and then focus on what you need to do to get better. Part of the acceptance is realizing what you can’t do and waiting patiently for the right time until you can do it again.
  2. Post-surgery instructions. If you’ve had a heart by-pass, you’ll have to return to the hospital for post-surgery consultations. The same goes if you’ve had an ACL surgery. You will be given instructions when to come back for discussions to see a therapist and to plan your rehabilitation. Do not miss these appointments.
  3. The therapy. You will be assisted during your rehabilitation therapy. There’s going to be plenty of frustrating moments, but you must be able to see past that and focus on your small achievements. Today, you have difficulty lifting your leg with a weight attached to it. Tomorrow, you’re able to lift it with half a pound of weight. Focus on those small successes and complete all the sessions prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Medicine, nutrition, and rest. These are as important as your rehabilitation therapy. You won’t be back to normal in a day or two. Make sure that you give your body the needed rest and the nutrition it requires. Some medications are meant to relieve pain, but make sure that you manage your intake with your doctor.

Learn about your insurance coverage. Discuss with your doctors any anxiety your feeling. The road to recovery is a marathon and not a sprint. Stay patient.