In January I wrote a piece on injuries to players on the offensive line…
I recently asked my physical therapist about the rehabilitation of a knee injury similar to the one that Kory Lichtensteiger sustained. My therapist works with a lot of athletes and has quite a bit of experience with this injury. Out came the plastic model of the human knee and a very detailed description of what happened to it.
I want to share what I learned with you, unfortunately I don't have a plastic model to wave around in front of you.
Her description of the surgery follows very closely what I had written about in the previous piece; there are some things that are not entirely clear, but without a model in front of you, it is impossible to accurately describe the difference.
In non-athletes, patients are returning to normal activities in 4 months. Nonprofessional athletes are engaging in sports anywhere between 4 and 6 months post-op. My therapist doesn't recommend to any of her patients returning to their sport before 6 months. Every individual is different but the limiting factor in all individuals is the speed at which the ligaments return to full strength.
9 months seems to be a very safe time to allow for complete healing of the ligaments in almost all individuals. A vast majority of the ligament's ultimate strength is achieved in the 1st 4 months but the last 10 to 30% can take up to another 5 months.
Rehabilitation chiefly revolves around strengthening and balancing the muscles that support the knee in an attempt to optimize the joint as much as possible because the surgically repaired knee will never be as strong as the original. This is because one of the ligaments is not replaced in the procedure and is always permanently damaged....basically only half of its original width is left intact. . As long as the knee joint is not subjected to the same type of motion that damaged it originally, there is no reason the athlete should not be able to perform as well as prior to the injury. Of course there is a danger that the same type of motion that caused the injury will re-injure the knee more easily because of the weakened, not repaired ligament.
Again, every individual injury and athlete is different and I have no access to any information specifically about any Redskin player; but, based on what I've learned this week, I do not feel it would be a “small miracle” for Liechtensteigeror to be our day one starting left guard.
This will be yet another interesting story to watch in training camp. The good news is that we have real competition for the position and so whoever wins should be a solid contributor.