"Rajon Rondo was diagnosed with an ACL sprain and is headed for surgery. He'll be out for eight to 12 months."
That's going to be the standard line you hear over the next few days with the Boston Celtics point guard. You might ask yourself "What is going on during that process? What will Rondo be doing?" In this slideshow, I'm going to explain the process of rehabbing an athlete's knee after ACL reconstruction.
The timings in this article are based on standard rehab protocol created by Kevin Wilk and Mike Reinold, two of the top physical therapists in sports. Wilk is based at Champions Sports Medicine in Birmingham and works closely with Dr. James Andrews. Reinold previously worked with Wilk at Champions and was recently an athletic trainer and rehab specialist with the Boston Red Sox.
A rehab can go very well and be "ahead of schedule" and there can be issues during the process that will be called "setbacks." Keep in mind that these are merely guidelines and that the medical team working with the athlete—or Rondo in this example—will adjust the process as needed. The timings here are based on the standard and should be considered an example.
Throughout the article, I will refer to the athlete with a male pronoun. The rehab is roughly the same for a male or female athlete, but since Rajon Rondo inspired this article, saying "he" helps me keep it straight in my head.
Will Carroll has been writing about sports injuries for 12 years. His work has appeared at SI.com, ESPN.com and Football Outsiders.