Barely two minutes into the Batang Gilas’ game against the Greek Youth National team, AJ Edu crumpled down on the floor clutching his right knee. He was taken out of the game and would not come back. What was first thought as a knee strain would turn out to be worse as initial radiologic findings suggest that the incoming Toledo Rockets sophomore tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Meniscus, and has a hairline fracture on his femur. Basketball fans have a lot of questions moving forward, so let us try and make some sense of what happened and what comes next.
How did AJ Edu get injured?
The injury happened as AJ drove to the hoop. Because of his long limbs and big strides, as well as his speed prior to stopping, it put a lot of pressure on his knee. The physics of the injury suggest that his stopping motion was not only forward (which explains the ACL and hairline fracture on the femur), but also had a twisting motion to it (which is how he tore his meniscus).
ACL tear and hairline fracture
Basketball involves a lot of change of pace and direction and because of it, injuries like these are common within the sport. As discussed in a previous article on CJ Cansino, the knee joint is made up of three bones (thigh bone/femur, shin bone/tibia, and the kneecap/patella), four ligaments (Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligaments, Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligaments), and two menisci (lateral and medial menisci). Because of the sudden stop from a high speed, the shin bone is propelled forward. The ACL is supposed to limit the movement of the bones that it supports but because the pressure was too high, the ligament tore. Because of the pressure, the thigh bone also sustained damage in the process.
The menisci are C-shaped cartilages between the thigh and shin bones and these bear the pressure coming from one’s body weight and movements on the knee. It is often ruptured by twisting the knee, and is often in sports that involve a lot of running and jumping. A torn meniscus can often be found alongside a torn ligament, which is unfortunately AJ Edu’s initial diagnosis.
The Road to Repair and Recovery
The hairline fracture can be repaired by immobilizing the afflicted area and usually takes six to eight weeks. Compliance is required as an untreated hairline fracture may develop into a stress fracture, and will be more difficult to treat.
Meniscal tears may be as simple as immobilizing the knee or as complicated as surgery. If the injury occurred on a red zone (the outer third of the meniscus), it may be left untreated as blood vessels in the area may aid in the repair. If the tear has occurred in the white zone (inner two-thirds of the meniscus), surgery is required as there are no blood vessels present. There are also different kinds of surgery. Since the primary goal of surgery is to preserve the healthy tissue, repairs are done when it is a red zone injury. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a camera and probes in order to operate on the injury without breaking skin. If the tear occurs on the white zone, meniscectomy or removal is recommended. A meniscus repair usually takes around three to six months before one can play sports again. A meniscectomy usually takes up to six weeks to heal, but may cause arthritis ten to twenty years down the line.
An ACL tear may be repaired by arthroscopy, which provides a better view of the injury, and without displacing the kneecap as done on an open ACL repair.this shortens recovery time. With proper recovery and rehabilitation, it may take around six months before a patient may resume practice.
AJ Edu needs further imaging tests to confirm the extent of his injury. If it all goes well, he will be able to grace the court again within a year without any physical limitations. The worst case scenario is that he may never be able to play the same way again. His injury needs to be assessed and handled in the best way possible, and recovery is crucial before he can even be cleared to play.
The country and your school will certainly be praying for the health of AJ Edu, and everyone is hoping for a quick and full recovery.