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Athletic Training

Can You Fully Recover After a MCL Injury?

10/28/2010

Question:

My son, 13 years old, is a very gifted athlete who has a grade 2 mcl injury. We have heard that wearing a brace for a while and riding his bicycle are good options during recovery. Are there other exercises he can do to strengthen his leg/knee during recovery? What is a timeline for recovery? Can an athlete recover 100% from a grade 2 MCL if there is no meniscus damage?

Answer:

MCL injuries in young athletes can be somewhat tricky to recover from if the patient is not fully compliant.  The reason we need to take our time to allow the ligament to heal in young people is the ligamentous insertion is near the growth plate in the tibia. 

However, most do recovery fully from this injury, especially if there is not meniscal damage.  Most of these injuries will fully heal in 8-12 weeks from time of injury.

In addition to using the brace for protection and the bike to help with range of motion, your son could benefit from performing some exercises to maintain his quad and hamstring strength. 

I would suggest you consult with an athletic trainer or another therapist at a local sports medicine center who can design and instruct your son in a home exercise program that incorporates motion, strength and balance exercises.  Additionally, the AT can follow up after several weeks and instruct your son in return to play exercises (specific to his sport).

Good luck!
 

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Response by:

Vincent J O'Brien, ATC Vincent J O'Brien, ATC
Head Athletic Trainer
Clinical Instructor at the School of Allied Medical Professions
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University