How does the road to ACL injury recovery vary from amateur athlete to elite-level pro?
In the middle of the 2022-23 EPL season, Tottenham Hotspur confirmed that Rodrigo Bentancur would require reconstructive knee surgery, causing him to miss the remainder of the season after imaging revealed he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
But the dreaded ACL tear is not just confined to those participating at the highest level, and quite often, it is the biggest injury setback an athlete can face.
The average return to play for a Premier League footballer since 2010 is around nine months or 267 days, to be more precise. However, according to Dr Matthew Provencher MD, a world leading expert on ACL injury, the disparity between those returning to sport professionally and your recreational athlete is not as stark as you might expect.
Yes, money flows freely into elite-level sport, and the gap between privileged pro and weekend warrior is widening at a startling rate. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the medical department. No expense is spared in the construction of sparkling, space-age facilities for world-class athletes.
But do these luxuries mean the superstar sportsperson is destined to recover quicker from setbacks than you or I?
Dr Provencher is an orthopaedic surgeon for the world-renowned Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. His frontline work in the field of anterior cruciate ligament injuries has helped transform perceptions about what was once considered a career-ending blow.
He told Premier Injuries how the ACL rehab process is now consistent across the professional and amateur sectors.
To have the facilities of Man United or the New England Patriots is pretty special and unique.
“The average weekend warrior might not have access to that. But from the treatment perspective, we want the same outcome.
“With professional athletes, we are going to cater for them, and they have a schedule in place. But at the end of the day, the weekend warrior is going to get the same treatment as the professional.
“That’s for the most part. There are a few areas where we might push the envelope for the pro athletes because we know they have the resources of the Premier League or NFL.
“But we try to make it so that everyone has a VIP, precision, personalised medicine approach to their knee.
“Even before we think about surgery, the key for the recreational athlete is to think about rehab. For anyone at that stage, we’re going to do the same things.
“We’re going to work closely with your physical therapist, make sure your nutrition is optimised, we’re going to get you several visits to a sports psychologist to make sure everything is tidy there.
“You might not have seven hours a day to dedicate to your rehab, but if you can give me 30 minutes to an hour, you’re going to be just fine.”
Dr Provencher spoke to Premier Injuries about all things ACL in a 40-minute interview. Watch the full interview below.