Knee Injuries And The Home Viewer

Posted by jstevrtc on February 25th, 2010

Whether or not you’ve had a knee injury of any kind in the past, there aren’t many things that make people cringe more readily than watching a game on TV and seeing that slow-motion replay of a gruesome injury, especially when it involves an athlete’s knee(s).  The only thing stranger than seeing that joint go out of place and do that strange contortion for a split-second (I shudder every time) is watching it from multiple angles in super-slo-mo in high definition while an announcer narrates it — “Oh yeah, THERE it is!”

We saw this during Robbie Hummel’s injury last night.  When he drove into the lane and planted that right leg — you saw it.  Something happened, and it was unnatural.  Then the slow-motion replays gave you a better look at it.  It’s the usual story — a player plants their (usually in-turned) leg, but the top part of the knee keeps moving while the bottom stays still.  Pop.  The first thing people think when a player goes down and grabs a knee is “Uh oh, ACL.”  They’re often right, and unfortunately, though the MRI is pending, that looks like the case for Hummel.

You may ask how can they make that diagnosis without the MRI pictures.  Good question.  Doctors know that the physical exam is more important than any pictures you get.  The next time you’re watching television and a player (in any sport) goes down with a knee injury, watch what the doctor or trainer does.  There’s one specific thing that they almost always do first in evaluating the knee right there on the floor or field, or when they get the player back to the bench — there’s a test that checks the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) almost immediately.

It’s called the “Anterior Drawer” test.  Here’s what you’ll see.  The doctor/trainer will lay the player on their back and bend the knee they’re checking to about a 90 degree angle.  They’ll grab the leg at the calf with both hands, with their thumbs up to stabilize against the knee.  Then they’ll pull forward on the bottom part of the leg as if they were opening a drawer.  At this point, the player will usually yell loudly.  This alone doesn’t tell you anything, since if I’d just hurt my knee and some putz started messing with it, the foot on my good leg would immediately rise up and head for the doctor/trainer’s face or testicles.  What they’re feeling for is how much that bottom part of the leg slides forward at the knee when they do the drawer-opening motion.  If it’s a lot, your suspicion for an ACL tear goes way up.  If it’s not much or it feels normal, an ACL tear is still on the list, but not as likely.  But quite often, you can literally see the result there on television.  You can see the bottom part of the knee slide unnaturally forward (anteriorly) when the ACL is torn.  MRIs are best for looking at ligaments (you can’t see them on a normal x-ray), and that almost always gets done, but this is how doctors make a “preliminary” diagnosis even without the pictures.  There are other tests besides the Anterior Drawer to check the ACL, but that’s the one doctors and trainers most often use first, and the one you see them use most often right there on TV.

By the way, there’s also a Posterior Drawer test that checks the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in the back of the knee, where you push backward instead of forward.  Same principle applies.  One last thing — don’t go doing these things on your friends.  The next time you see a knee injury on TV, though, watch the doctor/trainer do their exam.  Or more specifically, check out their Drawers.

Share this story

08.27.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2007

In the spirit of the new school year and the imminent college football season… 

  • First we offer the top 10 party schools in America.  Looking at the top 5, might there be a link between hedonism, the South and football? 
  • Speaking of the dirty South, this future Clemson grad wants us to know that she has ”the Iraq’s” education on her mind, er, something like that… 
  • Moving back to our bread & butter, in a tragedy of Odin-esque proportions, Oregon plans to take Phil Knight’s $100M largesse and use it to build a new on-campus arena.  Sadly, McArthur Court will be tossed into the dustbin of great historical arenas.  Why doesn’t UO end the charade and just call themselves the Oregon Nikes from now on?
  • Richard Jefferson donated $3.5M to his alma mater Arizona for their new practice facility.  But he’s still only the third best UA alum in the NBA, according to fellow Cat Agent Zero.   
  • SLAM put out its early top 25 last week.  Intriguing omissions – Duke, Florida, Oregon.  Say what inclusions? – Clemson, Alabama, Cal.
  • Mike DeCourcey at TSN picks five teams from which he believes a 2008 champion will emerge – Georgetown, UNC, Kansas, UCLA and Memphis. 
  • All kinds of knee problems – Syracuse guard Andy Rautins blew out his left knee during the Tournament of the Americas while playing for Team Canada - the Cuse’s leading returning three-point shooter will miss the entire 2007-08 season.  Duke’s David McClure (6-8 weeks) and Bama’s Ronald Steele (ditto) also had less serious knee surgeries last week – both are expected to be 100% by the season.   
  • Illinois guard Jamar Smith will miss the season due to his DUI arrest in February.  He will be eligible to return to the team in the 2008-09 season.  Oh, and Jeff Goodman reminds us that Bruce Weber still can’t recruit.   
  • From the rumor mill –
    • Word is pickup basketball at UCLA got heated Monday when Golden State star point guard Baron Davis engaged in some trash-talking with heralded Southern Cal freshman point guard O.J. Mayo. Davis got upset with Mayo after he didn’t respect one of Davis’ calls. Word is Davis, a native of Los Angeles, told Mayo that he doesn’t know who he is other than the fact that he wasn’t from Los Angeles and he also needed to respect a veteran’s call. Word is Mayo more than held his own in the games. (h/t to Bruin Report Online)
  • Former ECU head coach Ricky Stokes has been paid $250,000 to not take the administrative job originally offered him after his demotion.   
  • In a sad and bizarre end to what was probably a tortured life, former one-and-done Seton Hall star Eddie Griffin died of an apparent suicide last week when he drove his car into a moving train.  RIP Eddie. 
  • Finally, from the opposite end of the spectrum, Butch van Breda Kolff, former Princeton coach and hoops purist, died at 84 last week.  As head coach, he led Bill Bradley’s Princeton Tigers to the 1965 Final Four, its only appearance.  RIP Butch. 

 

Share this story