Each month, we’ll be sitting down with a professional rugby player from the Wolfpack squad and talking about an injury sustained in a previous season or game.
“We’ve created ‘Injury of the Month’ to create awareness about some of the common injuries that happen on the sports field.” Treated.com’s Dr Daniel Atkinson explains.
“What we want to do is just try to shine a light on some of the common injuries, what happens to the body, what sort of treatment is available, what sort of recovery these players, or you, or your children, might make, and also a few pointers about when to take it more seriously.
So if it’s an injury that may require more immediate medical attention, we’ll highlight those sorts of injuries, and what you might need to do to ensure you make a full recovery.”
#1 - Ruptured ACL
We went to visit the Toronto Wolfpack training ground, where we spoke with Greg Worthington who plays Centre for the team.
After gaining Super League experience with the Featherstone Giants, he moved to the Toronto Wolfpack in 2017, where he’s played since the team’s inception. He is considered a senior figure in the Wolfpack, and is an integral member of the team.
However, Worthington’s regular appearances were cut short in the Summer of 2018 when he sustained a severe knee injury at home while playing against the Rochdale Hornets. He was stretchered from the field shortly after.
“I remember it very well”, Greg tells us, “because it was the week of my birthday. [It’s] not something I’m likely to forget. I went to step off my left foot and literally felt my knee explode.
I had a pass option, which I wish I’d have taken now. I wouldn’t have had to go through the lengthy recovery, but, you know, that’s sport and sometimes these things happen.”
Clinical tests and scans went on to confirm a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is one of two key ligaments in the knee that help to stabilise the leg and connect the thigh-bone (femur) with the shin-bone (tibia). The ACL injury Worthington sustained meant he was unable to finish the rest of the season.
“There was pain for roughly 30 seconds to a minute.” Greg explains. “It was quite severe but then it [suddenly] stopped, so it was quite a weird feeling and sensation to be in quite a lot of pain and then for it to disappear within a matter of seconds.”
Dr Atkison explains that: “ACL injuries are not exclusive to those who play high-contact professional sport. In fact, ACL injuries can be encountered in any sport and elsewhere. This is because they’re typically caused by turning, landing or pivoting in a way that puts a lot of pressure onto the ligaments, sometimes causing strain, injury, or, potentially, a snap”
Some people who encounter these types of injuries may be able to make a full recovery without the necessity of reconstructive surgery. An effective treatment plan, which incorporates incremental strength exercises and gradual reintroduction of pressure on the leg, should be enough for the majority of people to make a recovery.
However, for those like Greg, who play sport at a professional level, reconstructive surgery is often necessary. This is because they need their legs, knees, bones and ligaments to be functioning at as high-a-capacity as possible to ensure the procedure runs as smoothly as possible.
“ACL surgery is fairly routine these days”, Dr. Atkinson tells us, “but it used to be very specialised. It involves finding a new piece of tendon, often from the front of your knee, and they attach that to the two bones, the thigh bone and the shinbone, during the operation. It takes a few weeks or even months to heal and become stable again”
Following Greg’s surgery, he was off the pitch and training to regain his strength and mobility for around 10 months. He tells us that it was “quite lonely in the physio room by yourself, but it’s a long process, you’ve got to make sure everything’s working as it was, to come back fitter, bigger and stronger.”
Greg made his comeback to official play in May 2019, against the Swinton Lions. He tells us “the nerves started kicking in a little bit, the injury was still in my mind and I didn’t wanna go back to being in that physio room by myself. But it was great to be back with the lads and it felt like a big weight lifted getting that first game under my belt.”