As devastating as Derrick Roses torn left ACL injury, suffered in the Bulls postseason opener late last month, was to watch, the question soon became whether the All-Star point guard would return to his previous form.
While modern medicine has made considerable advancements and a torn ACL is no longer a death sentence for Rose, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau aptly put it after the injury occurred, there are several examples of players who dont regain their explosiveness, a key element of Roses brilliance, after returning to the court, something that can often stem from a lack of confidence in their body.
Its a huge part of it and if you look at reasons athletes do or dont get back to pre-injury level of play, theres no question that the psychological component is part of it, said Dr. Brian Cole, the Bulls team physician and the surgeon who performed Roses procedure last Saturday, at the teams Tuesday-afternoon press conference at Rush University Medical Center. But Rose will learn to be able to trust his knee.
Hell be doing basketball-specific activities very early on, continued the doctor, who allowed that some athletes dont fully regain confidence in being able to perform the same feats they did prior to an ACL injury. Then, you do non-contact, basketball-friendly activities against other people.
Its this progression of low contact to higher levels of contact in competition, pre playing a real game.
Fred Tedeschi, the Bulls head trainer, who has been working with Rose, both in helping get his range of motion back in preparation for surgery and in the recently-started rehabilitation process, discussed how Roses basketball recovery would potentially progress after the three-month mark.
As a patient, hes done everything Ive asked and more, said Tedeschi. Once you get him there, he does exactly what you ask. He usually does five more reps.
At the 12-week mark, youre talking about spot shooting on a basketball court, he continued. As the body tolerates, youll progress to cutting activities. Some of the things that youve seen Derrick do over and over again, hell have to re-learn.
As he can tolerate it, well keep advancing, well keep adding more to it, up until the point where you start looking at what I refer to as predictable contact. Then, you take the final step, which is full-blown practice and see how thats tolerated, progressing into game activities.
Added Cole, who acknowledged that Roses body could respond quicker than the typical timeline for recovery: Its a progression, so youve got to crawl before you walk and typically patients, after ACL reconstruction, are actually running within 12 weeks and in general, we speak of basketball-activities linearally in other words, without cutting and so forth as soon as four months, and then its just going to be a progression of conditioning.
You think of a return to sport ultimately, thats the end game here we think of recovery as sort of a long process thats in stages, he continued. Theres only so much thats willfully in our control. A lot of its about physiology, how his bodys going to respond to various aspects of training. Hes an unbelievably hard worker and he wants this more than anything. Were not going to rush it.
"The most important thing is all of us feel comfortable, based on some specific parameters, that he is ready to go at each stage as we advance him. If hes not ready, then we delay and if hes ready, then we advance him to the next stage, through that progression. People do get back in six months after ACL reconstruction, but its not common in professional sports with an athlete of this caliber, mainly because downside of not being fully prepared is a worst-case scenario.
Hes determined and he is an amazing kid. He believes he will do this.
Cole also confirmed that Rose will be expected to return to the court in the 2012-13 regular season at some point as early as January, if he recovers on schedule and while his workload might be lowered, if his body can handle it, he will see game action, not just practice minutes and be nursed along.
Theres a lot of therapeutic benefit to starting with early minutes when we think its safe because you really have to play to play and all these muscle patterns have to kick in. Obviously you can do that off the court, informally, said Cole. Whether he has to go 40 minutes, thats a whole different story, but just getting out there and playing when hes able, thats when his exponential growth is going to come. Lots of athletes go back and play at a very high level, but not necessarily initially at the level they were pre-injury.
Some people get it at six months, some people get it at eight its been reported that it can take three years it depends upon the muscle physiology, probably the confidence issues. All of those things play in, he continued. Every athlete has a different story and every injury is different. Suffice it to say, he will probably get back and if we think hes safe next season, hell play next season and even if hes not at the same capability he was before his injury, the expectation is hell get there over some, hopefully near-term period of time.
Added Tedeschi, who cited the examples of former Bulls guard Jamal Crawford and current backup center Omer Asik as players who have recovered from serious knee injuries under his watch: Its a process and its tough on the players, and eventually they make it. Its the initial hardship and then progressing through. I have every confidence Derrick will do fine with this and that it will go as planned.
As for Roses current state of mind, though he wasnt present at Rush for the time being, he remains in Chicago the update is that hes doing well.
His spirits seemed really good. I know, in his mind, hes just determine to attack this rehab and get his game back to the level that it was, said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. There was a period where he was downI think hes ready to aggressively attack this.
Chimed in Cole: Hes getting around great, resuming activities of normal function, which is what all of want to do early after an operation.