Clemson's Lawson Shouldn't Play If Risk Too Great

AP—January 8, 2016

AP reporter Paul Newberry speaks to Robert G. Marx, MD, MSc, FRCSC, sports medicine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, about MCL sprains as he covers the injury of Shaq Lawson, defensive end for the Clemson Tigers. Lawson hurt his knee during the Orange Bowl and it's unclear if he will play in the national championship game on Monday night.

According to Dr. Marx, the severity of a sprained MCL can vary but it’s not unusual for an athlete with a low-grade injury to return to play less than two weeks later.

"If the athlete has the full ability to practice and perform all their moves — in other words, run and cut and do all the moves they need to compete — and it's a low-grade injury, generally they can play in a brace with relatively low risk," said Dr. Marx. "If the ligament is significantly unstable, or the athlete is not able to protect themselves and they can't really run or change directions quickly, then it's unsafe to play."

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