John: Background: I partially tore my patellar tendon playing basketball a couple of months before I fully ruptured it stepping into an unseen hole coming off a tee box, on the golf course, in April. Coming off the tee box, my knee immediately buckled, and my patella dislocated. I was fortunate to be able to self-reduce this at the time of the injury, then used an immobilizer. MRI results showed a completely torn patellar tendon from the inferior aspect of the patella. This required surgery to repair which was completed by Dr. Kevin Stanley.
The surgery required 6 weeks in a brace locked at 0 degrees. Fortunately, I was able to be weight-bearing as tolerated. The total time to recover from this injury and procedure will be around 6-9 months. The first part of rehab is the protective stage to allow time for the repair. The next phase of rehab is about normalizing impairments like muscle performance and ROM. Once I have met the criteria for normalizing impairments and function, then around 3-4 months I can advance to more dynamic activities like jumping and running to prepare for the last phase. The last part of the rehab will be about gradually increasing the demand/dynamics to be capable to return to sports like basketball. I will use strength and functional testing including the hop test to assess my status to advance through these stages and return to sports.
How did you go about choosing the right surgeon for you?
John: Simple, I chose Dr. Kevin Stanley because we have a history of working together on patient cases; I trust him, his guidance, and his expertise.
You're managing your own Physical Therapy? Talk to us about that & how our readers/ patients can rehab like a physical therapist.
John: My approach to recovery from this injury after surgery was to be appropriate, active, consistent, and adaptable. I do have a talented team around me [at OrthoCarolina Lake Norman PT] that I want to thank and appreciate as they checked in with me -- elevating the component of a teamwork aspect of recovery. Recovery/PT is a process. My suggestions to others who go through similar injuries are to take charge of this process with a dedicated team. Your team focus during this continuum of care should be an alliance with you as the lead. Your team will include your surgical team, your rehab team, and your performance team. I cannot stress the importance of trust and communication during this process enough. Resources that should be considered include what access a patient may have. I always ask if a patient has a gym membership to optimize work outside of rehab along with their specific goals. If they are an athlete, I also like to get an understanding of their coaches and other resources for performance. Bridge programs can be extremely helpful during the shift from rehab to return to sport. PTs can then collaborate with the patient and coaches to successfully return to sport.
What aspects of your experience will you put into play in your practice as a physical therapist?
John: What I have experienced - specifically the massive reduction in function and psychological stress - has only reiterated the significant importance of the biopsychosocial model. When I was younger, I suffered a pathological vertebral compression fracture which placed me in a brace with a significant reduction in activity for a year. This personal experience along with my PT experience reminded me of the resilience required to overcome this traumatic injury and be successful with the post-operative process. I always favor robust rehab methods backed with a solid body of evidence over more "trendy" options that surface in the rehab world. In managing my injury, just like with my patients, I have and will prioritize high-level research for decision-making and execution to reach goals.
Do you have any questions for John on his experience as a patient at OrthoCarolina? Ask them in the comments.
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you are seeking specific orthopedic advice or assistance, please consult with your OrthoCarolina physician or locate one in your area through OrthoCarolina’s website at www.OrthoCarolina.com.
For acute orthopedic injuries after scheduled clinic and urgent care hours, please utilize the HURT! App, in partnership with OrthoCarolina, for fast free access to orthopedic advice with a response time of ~4 minutes. Download here.