The injury recovery process for athletes


Photo courtesy of Children’s Health

Injuries can be very common in young athletes, especially since most young athletes in college and high school are still developing. Minor injuries can be inconvenient and bothersome, but the hardest struggles athletes face when they suffer from major injuries. This prevents them from playing their sport for a extended period of time. The mental and physical recovery from a major injury can be a long and hard journey, and there are many obstacles athletes can face on their way to fully recovering.

 Many of the common severe injuries athletes can sustain include head injuries and leg injuries. For example, concussions are very common in sports, especially football. These injuries are most commonly sustained by a blow to the head, and can take a very long time to recover from, leaving athletes on the bench for quite a while. Concussions can cause an increased amount of stress and anxiety, and can really affect an athlete’s mental state. Athletes younger than 18 can expect around a one month recovery time for a mild concussion. More severe concussions may require a much more extended recovery period.

Another group of major injuries among athletes are knee-related injuries. Severe injuries include tears in the ligaments of the knee. In most cases, the worst ligament to tear in the knee is the anterior cruciate ligament because it is generally more complex to treat and requires a longer recovery time. Tearing an ACL can take a heavy mental and physical toll on an athlete as it keeps them from playing any sports for up to six to nine months, and recovery after surgery is no easy task. Most ACL injuries require surgery, and therefore athletes are not able to walk for multiple weeks post surgery. ACL tears also require physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee. 

Other tears of ligaments in the knee, such as the meniscus, also require surgery in some cases, and can also take multiple months to recover from. These types of injuries can greatly affect an athlete both mentally and physically because they are not able to play their sport. Additionally, there can also be a lot of anxiety for young athletes as they might worry they will never reach the same strength as they had pre-injury. According to the National Institutes of Health, 90% of athletes with severe knee injuries that undergo surgery are able to completely recover and have normal or near-normal function of the knee. This is also the case for other knee ligament tears, as most athletes with knee ligament tears are able to return to their previous levels of performance.

Injuries in young athletes are common, but in most cases, athletes are able to recover fully and return to sports, fully regaining their strength over time.