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Tom Mix, Published August 20 2012

After ACL injury, Syverson striving to get back on court to start college career


When Brady Syverson found out he tore his anterior cruciate ligament five months ago, not once did he think his basketball career was over.

With all the medical advancements in knee surgeries, no longer does an ACL injury automatically mean the end of competing for athletes like Syverson. It does, however, mean months of rehabilitation and patience if the athlete desires to return to competition.

Syverson’s ultimate goal is to return to full strength and begin his collegiate career at North Dakota State College of Science.

Only weeks after his senior season at Fargo North ended with an injury on Feb. 7, Syverson underwent surgery and started preparing for the long road of recovery.

“I’m surprised of how quickly my knee has healed,” said Syverson who has completed his initial rehab sessions at the Sanford Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic in Fargo.

Syverson now has transitioned into what’s known as a ‘bridge rehab program’ at the Scheels Power Center, which is geared more individually to athletes looking to return to competition.

During the initial stages of his rehab, the goal for Syverson was to gradually get his surgically-repaired knee back to full strength. Overseeing his rehab sessions at the Sanford clinic was physical therapist Denise Kroke.

“Initially, we want to protect the graft throughout the whole process,” Kroke said. “In the early stages, we mainly are working on getting the full motion back in the knee. We are also working on getting the swelling down and getting the pain down.”

Syverson participated in two 45-minute rehab sessions a week at Sanford and did other rehab activities with the trainers at Fargo North regularly.

The formal physical therapy rehab time is approximately three months from the date of surgery. A week after his surgery, Syverson started his rehab at Sanford, performing a variety of exercises, including lunges, weight-resistance activity and jumping.

“It was hard to get used to jumping again,” Syverson said. “I hadn’t done it for so long. The balance exercises were hard sometimes, but you get used to them after a while.”

Like most athletes recovering from an injury, Syverson found out it is a process.

“We start out with lighter resistance activity and then work more into the heavier resistance,” Kroke said. “We emphasize more of the exercises where they are putting weight into the leg while they are working the muscles because it stabilizes the knee and is less stressful to the graft.”

Returning to equal strength in the involved and uninvolved knee is the goal of formal ACL rehab. A strength test is administered at the three-month mark and then it is up to the athlete where to go from there.

“For a sport like basketball, a plant and pivot activity, generally you are looking at six months for a return to sport,” Kroke said. “The athletes in general, you almost have to hold them back sometimes.”

“In particular, with the ACL, so many of the athletes feel like they can go out and do their sport, but you have to explain to them that graft, no matter how good the knee feels, only heals so quick.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562