Re-Tore ACL Playing Basketball – Brooke’s Story

Today we have an ACL surgery recovery success story from Brooke who tore her knee playing basketball recovered well but like myself when she returned to her sport of choice re-injured her knee. Her story is one of successfully recovering from ACL surgery but then not doing enough to prepare for returning to her sport of choice and when she returned damaging her knee. Lots of similarities to my story.


I’m Brooke a 19 year old female currently attending nursing school in Illinois. It’s been a year and about 4 months since my first ACL surgery.

Here’s my story…


Brooke 1 Day After ACL Surgery

I made it through years of basketball and softball without any major injuries. My senior year in high school I injured my left knee during a basketball game. There was a loose ball that went out of bounds and I ended up slamming my knee into our stage. I only had a slight cartilage tear as well as some bone bruising nothing major just did some strengthening and ROM exercises as well as taking a break from basketball but I eventually finished the season out and continued with softball.


Other Basketball and ACL Injury Stories:


After graduation I was asked to join the high school team at their summer tournaments. I had nothing better to do and love playing so I went. It was our second game in the tournament and we had a fast break down the court. I pushed the ball down to about the free throw line where I jump stopped to pass the ball to an open teammate. That jump stop is where it all happened. Immediately I felt my knee give way from underneath me as well as hearing a loud pop that even my other teammates on the bench could hear. I had some severe pain and said some choice words while lying on the floor. I knew right away that it was bad and almost instantly thought it was my ACL.

My knee had already swelled before they even carried me off the court.


I couldn’t get into the orthopedic doctor for about a week but after I visited the doctor they immediately thought it was my ACL. They got me in for an x-ray and mri the same day. The results were that I had torn my meniscus and ACL, had major bone bruising, and sprained the rest of my major knee ligaments. I went through a month of physical therapy doing range of motion and strengthening exercises to get my strength and ROM up before surgery.

My biggest fear with surgery was that I would not fully recover and be able to live an active lifestyle.


I had surgery on July 14, 2011. It was a 3 hour surgery. After opening up my knee they found that I had done more damage including more meniscus tears as well as my MCL was completely torn. I had an allograft double bundle ACL reconstruction as well as meniscus repair work done. After the surgery they couldn’t get my pain under control and I was given a femoral nerve block and eventually went home that day.

Surgery day and the day after my pain was around an 8 or 9 at times.

Knee After Surgery

Knee After Surgery

My femoral nerve block lasted for about 24 hours so I really had no feeling of my right leg for about a day and a half. The first day I basically just slept and iced my knee and made the dreaded journey, which seemed like miles to the bathroom.


I will not lie to you the first 4 days are the hardest days you will endure,  at least for me they were, but after that it does it get better. I recommend having a home base where you can rest and keep yourself entertained.

You will get bored eventually. A few things I kept at my home base were my iPod, laptop, TV remote, Xbox controller, phone, magazines, medications, and exercise equipment. I also kept a medication book and wrote down when and what I took. If you do this it’s easier to manage the pain and keep track of what time you can have your next pain pill. If you manage your pain well you can do more physical therapy exercises and stretches. I also used my cryo cuff religiously. If you only do one thing invest in a cryo cuff and pump it will greatly help with swelling and pain.

2 Weeks Post Op

2 Weeks Post Op


I was on crutches for what seemed like a long time. For about 3 weeks I was on two crutches. On week 4 I started using one crutch. Around 4 weeks is also the first time I could get a full revolution on the stationary bike. This was monumental for me. I could final see real progress. At this time school was starting and I walked a lot around campus so one crutch was needed. By week 5 I could walk without any crutches but my therapist encouraged me to use one for long distances because she wanted me to walk with good form and didn’t want me limping. Week 7 is when I could finally walk longer distances with minimal pain and no limp. After 8 weeks I started going to the gym by myself and doing the harder therapy exercises daily. At 2 months or 8 weeks is really when I say the pain was almost never over a 2.


After 3 months I got the okay to start running and jogging. Around this time I was doing my leg strengthen exercises 3 times a week and biking every day. Month 4 was the same as month 3 just longer jogs and less biking. During month 5 I was okayed for plyometrics and cutting and could return to sports. This is the important stuff. I started slacking here and never really finished my cutting drills.

After 4 months you just seem pretty normal you’re happy you can walk and run but the important stuff is getting complete strength and agility back. Do not slack here or bad things can happen.


Life went on I got a job as a certified nursing assistant about 8 months post op and had no problems. I did my P90x and Insanity DVDs over the summer with no problems life was good. I was finally a year post op and feeling great. I recently was asked to play in an alumni game at my high school I went and decided against playing but the coach talked me into going to the girls practice the following day and scrimmaging so I did. Only 2 minutes into the scrimmage I jabbed out to guard a person and my knee gave way and felt unstable and I heard a pop not as loud as before but still a pop. It hurt but it still was not comparable to the first time.


My results were that I overstretched my graft. It stretches about 7mm and the doctor said usually 3mm is as much give way as you want. My doctor said that most likely my body did not grow enough blood vessels around the graft; therefore my graft was not as strong as it should be. So this time around I am opting for using my own patellar tendon for ACL reconstruction. My surgery is scheduled for March 8th, so I have sometime over spring break to recover. This graft is less likely to stretch. I still believe not doing enough physical therapy is somewhat to blame.

The moral of the story is do all of your exercises so you don’t end up in the same sinking boat twice!

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises