10 Top Athletes Who Have Recovered Successfully from ACL, MCL, and Shoulder Injuries

10 Top Athletes Who Have Recovered Successfully from ACL, MCL, and Shoulder Injuries

If you have a knee or shoulder injury requiring surgery, you may be concerned that you will be forced to be less active after recovery, but new surgery and rehabilitation practices have made the recovery period months shorter and allowed most patients to regain their previous level of athleticism and activity.

The best testimonies to the improved surgery and rehab are the athletes who have succeeded on a high level post-operation. Here are a few athletes who have come back from catastrophic injuries to continue competing at a world-class level...

Tom Brady #ACLRecovery #MCLRecovery

Tom Brady is a four time Super bowl winning Quarterback and has not had a losing season since becoming the starter for the Patriots in 2002. In the first quarter of the first game of the 2008 season, Chiefs Safety Bernard Pollard rolled into Brady’s knee and tore both his ACL and MCL. Brady has successfully returned from the injury and was the 2015 Super bowl MVP.

Alex Morgan #ACLRecovery

The U.S.A women's team won the World Cup this year in stunning fashion, and Alex Morgan has been one of the team's most recognizable faces since joining them in 2011.  What most people don't know is that she tore her ACL as a senior in high school.

The injury didn't stop Morgan from becoming the youngest member of the national team at the age of 22, nor did it stop her from becoming the first woman to grace the cover of the vaunted FIFA video games series. In fact, her torn ACL didn’t stop Morgan from becoming an international star who continues to rise in terms of skill, stature, and visibility.

Adrian Peterson #ACLRecovery, #MCLRecovery

On Christmas Eve in 2011, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL and MCL. After a difficult rehab process he returned to the field 8 months after his injury. During that next season rushed for 2,097 yards, nine short of the NFL single season record. Knee surgery and rehab will not turn you into an NFL running back, but it is realistic to expect to regain your level of athleticism, whether you like to run over linebackers, have a jog around the track, or just do aerobics with Richard Simmons. 

Jamal Crawford #KneeSugergyRecovery

In Jamal Crawford’s 2nd season in the NBA he had an injury that required reconstructive knee surgery. A basketball player’s ability to jump high and is a key factor in their performance, and having knee surgery is often seen as the death knell of a players career.

Luckily for Jamal Crawford, he has played 12 seasons of injury free basketball since his surgery, and is the only player in NBA history to win the 6th man of the year award twice. 

Drew Brees #RotatorcuffSurgeryRecovery

In 2005, Drew Brees was playing on a 1-year contract and having the best year of his career, but near the end of his last game he dove for a fumble, and in the chaos of the pile injured his throwing shoulder. After an MRI, team doctors learned that he had torn his labrum and severely injured his rotator cuff. Because of the injury, only the New Orleans Saints offered him starting quarterback money.

He started the very first game of the 2006 season, and since then has been the most productive quarterback in the NFL, throwing for the most yards and touchdowns in the NFL.  After shoulder surgery, you may or may not throw an NFL touchdown, but you will be able to play catch with your children or toss the tennis ball for your dog...not bad.

Maria Sharapova #TornRotatorCuffSugeryRecovery

In 2008, Sharapova was unable to rehab a shoulder, and elected to have shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Prior to her injury, there wasn’t much history of tennis players returning from the injury to perform at a high level, but Sharapova did. 3 years after the injury she elevated to be the #1 tennis player in the world, and win a grand slam. Surgery and rehab won’t win you a endorsement from Nike, but it may allow your serve to return to ace level. 

Johan Santana

Pitching is the most violent shoulder motion in all of professional sports. If you think your shoulder is sore in the morning, imagine how it feels after throwing over 100 pitches in an MLB game.

Johan Santana had to have the front of his shoulder capsule repaired, an injury that in the past has certainly ended pitcher's careers. 11 months after the surgery, Santana threw a no hitter. Orthopedic surgery has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 15 years. 

Ray Lewis

An NFL linebackers job description is as follows: grab and throw 300 pound professional athletes and tackle bulky high school track stars running full speed. Safe to say having two strong and stable shoulders is necessary to get the job done.

During the 2002 season, Ray Lewis injured his shoulder and came back the very next season to win defensive player of the year. You may not be able to tackle a running back after surgery, but you will at least be able to lift up a small toddler...it's the good things in life that count, right? 

Shaun Livingston

Shaun Livingston sustained one of the most gruesome and horrific leg injuries the NBA has ever seen ( if you YouTube it, viewer discretion is advised). The injury was so severe that doctors considered amputating his leg. 7 years after his injury, Livingston won a championship with the Golden State Warriors as a key contributor off the bench. Shaun wasn’t supposed to walk right again, but thanks to quality orthopedic practice and rehab plan, he was able to play basketball at a professional level again. Successful surgery can often be a miracle when we take into account the traumatic nature of the initial injury.

Rob Gronkowski #ACLRecovery #MCLRecvoery

In 2014, Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL. A little more than a year later, he helped the New England Patriots win a Super Bowl. His knee injury didn’t stop him from scoring touchdowns... or dancing (link). An ACL injury doesn’t have to stop you from celebrating a little hammer time!


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