By: Loren Kalm for Knee1
Coming off the best season of his career, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stepped into a live game for the first time since losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl last year. Unfortunately, it would be his last time on the field until next season. After attempting just 11 passes, Brady injured his knee on a low hit by Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard with more than 7 minutes left in the first quarter of the season opener. Although the Patriots went on to win the game 17-10, they lost their most valuable player for the remainder of the season.
An MRI revealed that Brady suffered tears to both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee. The ACL provides stability to the knee when jumping or rapidly changing directions. It is the most commonly-injured ligament in the knee and is typically torn either from twisting the knee or from a direct blow (as was the case with Tom Brady). The MCL also provides stability, however tears of this ligament alone rarely require surgery.
| Warning Signs of an ACL Injury: Call a doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms. |
Your knee feels unstable and wobbly
You feel or hear a pop in your knee
You have pain, swelling, or stiffness for multiple days
You feel intense pain when you try to walk
Typically with this kind of injury, doctors will let the MCL heal, before attempting reconstructive surgery on the ACL. Reconstruction of the ACL is different than other ligament surgeries, because it cannot usually be fixed by stitching together the torn ends of the ligament. The ligament instead must be replaced by a graft, which is most often taken from the patients own tissue, such as the patellar tendon or medial hamstring.
Brady will likely have surgery in one month, followed by six to nine months of rehabilitation. Coaches and medical staff are optimistic that he will be ready to play again next preseason, but must be cautious, because previous ACL injuries put athletes at risk for future damage to the ligament.