Symmetry Blog

Injury of the week - ACL Rupture

Symmetry Physio - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

An all too familiar season ending injury for Callan Ward, GWS.



Injury of the week - ACL Rupture

Unfortunately this week we see the all familiar season ending injury of an ACL rupture sustained by the co-captain of the GWS Giants and 217 game player Callan Ward. Callan ruptured his left ACL during the first quarter of this rounds match against Geelong. It was a non-contact injury that occurred whilst he was trying to evade his opponent Gary Ablett. His knee twisted as he attempted to change direction and his left knee collapsed underneath him. On camera it was the ‘textbook' ACL injury.

Most of us have heard the term ACL, but what is it?

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is a ligament connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone. It’s main role is to provide stability to the knee especially during twisting or turning
movements. This is why an ACL injury is so common amongst fast paced dynamic sports such as AFL because they involve changing direction, evading opponents and landing and getting tackled. If the ligament is put under too much strain and the load is too great during these movements it can be torn or ruptured.


Classically at this time a ‘pop’ sound and/or sensation is felt in the knee and is usually extremely painful. This pain can subside after a few minutes leaving the player thinking they can return to play. Unfortunately the next time they try to change direction their knee will most likely give way.

Without a functioning ACL and the demands of high level sport for an elite athlete such as Callan it will mean he will require an ACL reconstruction. This generally involves a section of patella or hamstring tendon replacing the ACL. In lower level sports with less demands on change of direction some individuals can cope without having surgery.


In general post reconstruction rehabilitation is usually around 12 months. The first few weeks following surgery focus on minimisation of post surgical swelling and restoring the knees range of movement, before integrating a very structured and individualised strengthening and conditioning including a neuromuscular retraining program. Around 12-20 weeks straight line running may begin before progressing to more dynamic and sport specific activities in the final months. In conjunction with you and your surgeon, your physiotherapist will guide you through each phase.

Returning to play

Passing certain criteria for return to play has been shown to be vital in reducing the risk of re-injury. Inthe final stages ACL rehab athletes including Callan will be put through their paces before returning to a game. Generally this will involve a thorough assessment of the players biomechanics and movement patterns, landing strategies, strength and dynamic balance for their particular sport.

We wish Callan all the best with his rehabilitation and return to AFL.


Kim Garland

Symmetry Physiotherapy



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