After watching Cleveland Browns’ Tashaun Gipson take a hard blow to the knee in Sunday’s game, I wanted to discuss how slight differences in mechanics can cause major differences in outcomes.
Many times, the most significant knee injuries occur when a player’s foot is planted on the ground. That’s a classic case for torn ACLs.
But in Gipson’s situation, his foot wasn’t on the ground and instead, his leg almost wrapped around his teammate’s. His knee hyperextended and he overstretched the ligaments, possibly even pulling them off the bone.
Today, I had the chance to speak with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this injury. When he gets back on the field will depend on how far those ligaments were stretched away from the bone. Officials are calling for 6 to 8 weeks.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion. Originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on Nov. 26, 2014.
DR. CONGENI: Hey, Ray. I wanna talk a little about how certain knee injuries occur, kinda mechanism-wise. Uh, a lot of people watching that injury to (Browns player) Tashaun Gipson and …
DR. CONGENI: … seeing, you know, how different things cause different injuries. I think you and I have spoken about, it’s worth mentioning again, that one of the most significant injuries that can occur to the knee is usually when the foot is planted on the ground.
When the foot is planted on the ground, we talk about ACL injuries and tearing the cartilage pad between the 2 bones in the knee, known as the meniscus. Those are the kinds of injuries that can be long-term and lead to arthritis later on and need to be fixed.
Um, the classic mechanism of those types of injuries, Ray, we’ve talked about it, is plant, the foot plants on the ground, twist, pop. You can almost see the knee jump funny when you have that plant, twist, pop. The knee just gives way and that ligament in the middle of the knee, the ACL, the cartilage pads are at risk and the long-term injuries [follow].
But, that’s not at all the mechanism of what people saw with Tashaun Gipson’s injury. Because it was such a contrast, I wanted to speak about that one.
Tashaun Gipson’s injury … was a real significant hit to the knee. He actually, kinda wrapped his leg around his teammate on that play, but what happened was the foot was not planted on the ground and the knee hyperextended. And, there are ligaments that run down the side of the leg and they meet in the back corner of the leg. They get stretched and sometimes even pulled off the bone, but they’re not torn quite the same as the ACL.
I think it’s kinda funny listening at press conferences. I, of course, didn’t see Tashaun Gipson, but I saw the mechanism of the injury. But, to listen to the press conference as you heard Coach Pettine call it alphabet soup because he said the PCL, the posterior cruciate (ligament), and the MCL (medial collateral ligament) kinda meet back there. And, these strap ligaments kinda stretch and when they hyperextend, they overstretch and they can get torn away from the bone.
The big deal with him is gonna be, depending on what they see on the studies and everything, how badly those ligaments are torn away from the bone. [That will determine] when he might get back and be able to play some this year.
HORNER: Alright. Yeah, it didn’t look good. They’re saying 6 to 8 weeks. Is that, uh, conservative?
DR. CONGENI: Again, when you don’t see these guys, you don’t know. You can play with a brace to protect or kinda give a little bit of extra support to those ligaments when they’ve been stretched or pulled away from the bone. But, you know, gosh in the NFL for a position like safety, you can’t play with big, bulky braces very easily.
So, they’re assessing all that stuff. He’s been a real pleasant surprise; he’s been a really, really good player.
But, it’s just kinda interesting as you see it’s totally different than when somebody’s foot is planted on the ground. That’s when you’re thinking about the ACL or the torn cartilage.
HORNER: Alright, Joe. Well, listen, you and your crew have a good Thanksgiving and we’ll catch up with you next week.
DR. CONGENI: Yeah, we have everybody home and we’re looking forward to it. You guys, too. Hopefully the Horners have a great Thanksgiving, and thanks for all you do in the community, Ray.
HORNER: More than welcome, Joe. Enjoy the day. I’ll talk to you next week.
DR. CONGENI: Okay, thanks.
HORNER: There you go. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, joining us live at 1590 WAKR.