Athletes Face Long Recovery From Common ACL Injuries
TULSA, Oklahoma - This past year, ten NBA players and numerous college basketball players have torn their anterior cruciate ligament, commonly referred to as an ACL.
The injury has affected many athletes across Green Country, including one ORU player, who was injured just a few weeks ago.
Obi Emegano's days consist of groaning, grimacing and light stretching. It's become his new routine. Instead of leading his ORU team on the court, it was three letters that stopped his season: ACL.
"It was more painful to hear than feel at that time," Emegano said.
He sat out last year due to transferring, and now the majority of the season will consist of his leg wrapped up and trying to bicycle, after a couple weeks of training.
"Scar tissue is starting to break up and it's leaving me to be more free. My everyday activities aren't as bad as they were, but those first 72 hours were tough," Emegano said.
ACL injuries are becoming more common on the hardwood.
"The players are getting bigger, stronger, faster. They're trying to change direction. There's a lot of force on the knee, and if he catches it just right, you've got an ACL that's disrupted," said Dr. Allen Lewis.
TU Head Coach Danny Manning had three ACL tears in his NBA days, when recuperation was tougher with less technology.
"Are you going to come back as fast, as quick? There are a lot of things that happen that first time that are just unknown," Manning said. "The third time was easier than that, because, 'I know what I have to do.'"
For Manning, it derailed an All-Star career.
"You know you have a pity party for yourself, to be honest with you. Then you get over it," he said.
Former TU football player Bryan Burnham had an ACL injury in the first game of the 2012 season against Iowa State.
"The second he hit me, I knew it was my ACL. I was on the ground, just 'Why me, why me?'"
The NCAA stopped Burnham's return to the field, not granting him an extra year of eligibility.
"That's the way the NCAA works. And they're in charge for a reason, so you have to respect their decision, but I wish things could have gone differently," Burnham said.
The injury is always going to be an issue. Players say you can't prevent it; you just have to deal with it.
"Every day you are working to get back is the day closer to being able to do what you want to do. And that's your driving force," Manning said.
Emegano said he had two brothers go through ACL injuries and two cousins returning from knee injuries. But through his family, he gets motivation.
"There's positives that can be taken out of all these knee constructions our family's having. I think, after this one I'll be done, hopefully, knock on wood," he said. "Whether I'm sitting out or not, I still can learn the game."
Emegano is a redshirt sophomore and will have two years left if he doesn't get an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA.
Burnham said he's hoping for a tryout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.