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Vonn Update-Now Comes The Rehab… And Olympics?

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Lindsey Vonn at Lake Louise on Dec. 1, 2012. (credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Lindsey Vonn at Lake Louise on Dec. 1, 2012. (credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorLindsey Vonn had knee surgery in Vail Sunday.

The question now is, will she be able to make a quick comeback — especially with the 2014 Winter Olympics almost exactly 12 months away?

The surgery was termed “routine.” That means her MCL and ACL were repaired without complication, and the fracture of the upper, outer shinbone did not require screws, pins, or hardware — which would have delayed recovery.

But her recovery will be anything but routine, especially now that NFLer Adrian Peterson has set the bar for amazing MCL/ACL recoveries– he did it in 8 months with a subsequent MVP season.

The key is not screwing up the graft used to repair the ACL by overworking the leg too quickly — yet rapidly building up the quad muscles of the leg to take pressure off of the injured joint.

RELATED: Vonn Undergoes Surgery On Right Knee In Colorado

No quads = no recovery. It’s a tough balance.

Here’s now it typically works for these injuries:

Week 1-2: Get the swelling down, and begin easy exercises to regain motion, especially being able to get your leg straight. No putting full weight on the knee.

Weeks 2-6: Continue to regain motion, and begin working on strength. Swelling needs to go down for the muscles to recover. Begin stationary cycling and theraband exercises.

Weeks 7-12: The hardest part- work, work, work those muscles. Sweat and Pain.

Week 12 (3 months): Usually patients are allowed to begin to jog. Continue strengthening the muscles.

Week 20 (5 months): Agility drills with easy changes of directions and pivoting — then progressing the intensity.

Week 32 (8 months): Return to full training, and eventually, return to play (or ski.) But the rehab continues.

So by 12 months — it’s not out of the question to ski in the Olympics.

But you have to remember, these are very general timeframes.

In her favor — strong legs going into the surgery, and the surgery done within a week of injury. Also, a tough and motivated athlete.

Against her: the great unknown. The time frames and exact regimens are inexact. Setbacks occur. Swelling reappears. Range of motion is stubborn to return. Everyone is not Adrian Peterson. Is it easier to gain 5 yards or take 0.003 off your time to win a medal? The mental part of recovery. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The Super-G is tough, even before an injury. But that’s what separates Olympians from the rest of us.

I’d place my money on her full return.

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