Nina Manian heard something tear as she quickly turned during lacrosse tryouts. Next thing she knew, her knee gave out, and she had to be helped off the field.
Manian, along with fellow sophomores Isabel Wallace-Green, Audrey Schulz and senior Martha Daniel, had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.
At first, Manian thought her knee was dislocated. After resting it and going home, Manian could still walk.
Even orthopaedic surgeon Dr. William Bryan at Methodist Hospital thought injury was not major due to her mobility and lack of reaction when he pulled her knee.
As a precaution, Dr. Bryan requested a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for Manian a week after the injury, which revealed her injury to be more debilitating than initially anticipated.
“My mom called me with the results, and I didn’t believe it,” Manian said. “I thought she was kidding.”
Manian had surgery over spring break.
“It was very scary for me because I had never had surgery before and I had never had general anesthesia,” Manian said. “The scariest part for me was being completely knocked out.”
Manian will have to endure crutches and knee braces for 10 months to regain complete mobility. During her recovery process, she will go to the Methodist Rehabilitation Center.
Schulz also tore her ACL while playing sports. She was at the A&M soccer camp in June with a portion of the SJS soccer team.
“We were in a two-on-two drill, and some girl hit me while playing defense,” Schulz said. “I thought it was fine, so I kept playing. I went to the trainer just because it felt a little weird, and they said it was completely fine.”
When Schulz was playing a game that night, however, her knee collapsed as she cut to the side.
Schulz was sent back home the next morning. About a week later, an MRI revealed to Schulz that her ACL was torn.
Schulz returned to camp without getting surgery.
“I couldn’t run, but I could do everything else. I climbed the rock wall and did the challenge course without using my knee, stuff like that,” Schulz said. “It was still really fun, and I didn’t miss much.”
Schulz got her surgery Aug. 15, the day she had expected to start field hockey preseason.
Schulz recently finished her physical therapy at Methodist Sports. The usual recovery time for an ACL tear is six to twelve months; Schulz completed her rehabilitation in the first half-year.
“It’s weird that I finished so early,” Schulz said. “Usually you finish within six months if you’re an NFL player.”
This year, Schulz was unable to play field hockey, soccer or lacrosse. Instead, she managed field hockey and swam during winter season.
“I didn’t mind too much,” Schulz said. “In the beginning, yes, afterwards, no. I still went to camp, and I was still able to come to school.”
Daniel tore her ACL while playing lacrosse in a game against Lamar, March 28. Her right ankle rolled to the side, and, in an attempt to correct her footing, Daniel jerked her foot up.
“I heard a sound like bubble wrap, and I knew immediately that I had torn my ACL,” Daniel said.
Daniel had surgery less than a week after her injury. Since then, she has been on a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine to help gain more range of motion in her knees. She began physical therapy with trainer Mike Kleinstub and expects to be fully recovered with six months of therapy.
Wallace-Green tore her ACL dancing to “The Harlem Shake” at Field Day.
“I kind of went crazy. I started jamming across the field,” Wallace-Green said, “I guess I jumped on it, and I felt my knee pop backwards.”
Wallace-Green did not think anything serious had happened at first and continued dancing.
“It just kept going backwards, so I sort of fell down,” Wallace-Green said. “Then a couple people helped me off to the trainer.”
Her injury was originally thought to be a hyper-extension, which could be linked to an ACL tear. Trainers recommended Wallace-Green make a doctor’s appointment if the swelling worsened over the weekend.
Wallace-Green’s knee was still stiff after the weekend, so she saw Dr. Michael Chapman with Texas Children’s Pediatric Medical Group.
Dr. Chapman initially thought her injury was a hyper-extension as well. Wallace-Green got an X-ray, which came back with no results.
Since Wallace-Green could not straighten her knee, her doctor recommended that she get an MRI. He only thought it might be something in the cartilage, like a meniscus injury.
Wallace-Green got the MRI on the Thursday of spring break and got the results the next day.
She plans to do two weeks of physical therapy to get her leg stronger and be able to straighten it before the surgery.
Manian, Schulz, Daniel and Wallace-Green all think that ACL tears are inevitable.
“I think that even people who are super athletic have to do specific ACL exercises to strengthen the ACL,” Manian said. “If you don’t do those, it’s really easy to tear your ACL.”
“Based on what my doctor said, ACL tears are much more common on girls than in boys. A lot of this is because we have wider hips which puts more pressure on our knees,” Daniel said. “I was very surprised when I tore mine because it was a move I’ve done thousands of times.”
The ACL is the ligament between the femur and your tibia. Any impact that causes the femur and the tibia to move in opposite directions could tear the ACL.
“From what my doctor told me, if you step off a curb, you could literally tear your ACL.” Schulz said.
“I’ve heard that ACL tears are very common among people of our age who are fit,” Wallace-Green said. “I guess it’s just fragile and happens when you least expect it. I don’t really know why, but I wish it wouldn’t happen so much.”