May 31st 2013, 14:47
Last January, after sustaining an injury to one knee during a particularly heated hockey match, our 16-year-old daughter Anya, a sports scholar, was handed the diagnosis most dreaded by athletes of any age: complete rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee. The ACL, one of the crisscross ligaments attaching the knee cap to leg bones, is pivotal to any movement of the knee, and a complete tear such as Anya sustained can spell a death sentence for any future sports.
The standard treatment is surgical reconstruction, which entails taking tissue from a tendon or hamstring, attaching this onto a bit of borrowed bone, refashioning something resembling an ACL ligament, and screwing the lot onto the thigh and shin bones. After the operation, the patient is on crutches for weeks and then undergoes some nine months of rehabilitation before getting back to normal play.