HUHE SETBACK: Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr announces his last season with the Atlanta Braves might he be done with…..

When Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. suffered his season-ending knee injury in a recent game, Atlanta-area sports medicine experts basically shrugged because they’d seen it before.

Acuña suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee May 26 against the Pirates. Acuña previously tore his right ACL in July 2021, ending that season early as well.

Even though few players have had to recover from torn ACLs in both knees, Acuña said his familiarity with the surgery and rehab gives him confidence that he can return.

Doctors The Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed agreed. They say the injury is a common one for professionals, but leisure athletes can have it too. Sports that require sudden changes in direction — soccer and tennis for instance — can leave players particularly vulnerable and women might in some cases be more at risk than men, due to anatomical differences, according to Northwestern University and a new study from the University of Memphis.

The ACL is the primary stabilizing ligament that runs through the middle of the knee. It keeps the knee stable during athletic activities, including running, twisting, cutting, and jumping. This stabilizing function protects the cartilage in the knee, decreasing the risk of tears and arthritis.

Dr. Bob DuVall, an orthopaedic and sports physical therapist and director of Sports Medicine of Atlanta, said an injured ACL is reinjured about 5% to 30% of the time. As part of the rehabilitation work following an injury, physical therapists typically work to strengthen a patient’s other nearby joints to put less strain on the knee and prevent a repeat. But that rehab work doesn’t always prevent re-injury.

“A second ACL injury to the opposite knee is less common, at 3 to 11%. That just tells me that we as practitioners didn’t clean up those variables at Acuña’s hip and foot, and perhaps the spine — that those causative factors needed to be addressed.”

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