Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dreaded ACL Injury

Detroit Shock’s forward Cheryl Ford is done for the rest of the WNBA season.

And it couldn’t have happened in a worst way.

She was a peacemaker.

While trying to restrain teammate Plenette Pierson during the confrontation against Candice Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, Ford’s right knee buckled as she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

Here is the video of the aforementioned brawl.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the four major and stabilizing ligaments in our knees. Studies have found that this type of injuries is common among athletes—especially women—due to a variety of reasons: hormonal, balance, posture, and genes. An ACL can be torn by way of a “sudden dislocation, torsion, or hyperextension of the knee.”

Basically, these type of injury can happen at anytime and anywhere—even outside the arena of sports—as I heard a story awhile back wherein someone did tear their ACL after sitting down for a long time with their legs crossed.

In the National Basketball Association (NBA), Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries have been out there for quite some time. Over the last twenty years, several prominent players like Bernard King, Patrick Ewing, and Ron Harper have been able to return from his injury despite surgical procedures still being in its infancy.

Other instances

Probably the worst possible ACL injury occurred in February last year when former Los Angeles Clippers guard Shaun Livingston tore three of the four major ligaments in his knee on a breakaway drive in the first quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats. While in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), Minnesota Lynx point guard Lindsey Harding, the first overall pick in the 2007 WNBA draft, suffered a torn ACL in her left knee during a seemingly harmless drive to the basket during the later part of her rookie season while playing against the Washington Mystics.

Just can’t get healthy

No player has suffered more ACL injuries than NBA forward Danny Manning. Manning was the top pick out of Kansas in 1988 who spent portions of his productive 15 year career with the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, and Detroit Pistons; suffered three ACL injuries: injuring his right knee during his rookie year in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks (1/4/89), another in the left knee during a team practice in Phoenix (2/7/95), and re-injuring his right knee again two years later in Sacramento (4/7/98).

While in the WNBA, Rebecca Lobo, one of the most decorated collegiate and Olympic female basketball players of this generation, was also not spared of his injury. In the New York Liberty season opener against the defunct Cleveland Rockers (6/10/99), Lobo tore her left ACL 42 seconds into the contest. Six months later, she reinjured the same leg during a rehab session (12/16/99).

Exceptions to the rule

For every injured player, there are also exceptions and two players come to mind, Karl Malone (Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers) and NBA Iron Man A.C. Green (Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat). Playing in 1458 games in a career that spanned 19 years, Malone’s only significant injury came during his last and only year with the Los Angeles Lakers wherein he missed 39 games due to torn knee ligament. On the other hand, A.C. Green has never missed any significant time having played in 1192 consecutive games (an NBA record).

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