NBA's schedule might have caused more injuries, but any correlation to ACL tears unlikely

Associated Press/The Washington Post—April 29, 2012

“There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we’ve ever studied,” Dr. David Altchek from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said Sunday.

Derrick Rose, last season’s MVP, was hurt in the final minutes of Chicago’s Game 1 victory over Philadelphia, and the Knicks’ Iman Shumpert went down a short while later. The blame game started soon after, with many pointing the finger at the hectic post-lockout schedule.

Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that Rose and Shumpert sustained, because they might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament.

“In fact, I think if you’re tired, you’re a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you’re not going to be as explosive,” said Altchek, who has operated on players such as Josh Howard, David West and Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, and been a consultant for the NBA.

The revised schedule amounted to about two extra games a month for teams, from 14 to 16. Though the league said the injury rate was about the same as in a normal 82-game season, players say they felt a difference.

Alchek said ACL tears, far more common in female athletes, are scary injuries in that there’s little explanation for how to prevent them. He said the non-contact version that both Rose and Shumpert sustained are often more prevalent in the strongest, healthiest athletes.

Contact ACL tears, Altchek said, are the kind that can happen to a football player hit on the side of the knee. But Rose was jumping to stop when he was injured, and Shumpert was trying to maneuver with a behind-the-back dribble when he crumbled to the court.

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