Jamie started his physical therapy last night and we learned two fascinating things about ACL surgery. He had what they call an autograft where the tissue to repair the ACL is taken from his own body (the other option would be tissue from a cadaver). But the physical therapist told us the tissue they take is not ligament but tendon. So right after the surgery, the new ligament is actually stronger than the original from-the-factory ACL because it's not a ligament at all. Then the tendon has to learn how to function as a ligament and it actually loses strength. Over the next few weeks as Jamie heals, he'll be losing a little bit of stability in that knee until his grafted tendon learns its new job.
The second interesting fact involves the quad muscle. Jamie had noticed that his leg felt weak and looked a whole lot smaller than his other thigh. I didn't really understand this because he really hasn't rested the leg much. It's not like he was in a cast for 8 weeks. The PT said the atrophy of the muscle has to do with the sack of fluid that surrounds the knee joint. According to the PT, when the surgeons work on that joint, they first pump it full of saline to expand it and give them more room to work. This swelling trips out all the receptors in the lining of the fluid sack which then tell the brain not to use that quad muscle. And that's what makes it shrivel up and what causes that leg to be so weak following surgery. Jamie asked about going on the 60 mile Orlando to the Coast Thanksgiving bike ride again this year. The PT said his knee would be absolutely fine and handle the bike ride no problem. But there's a good chance his quad will get tired out and he'll have to stop. Of course, he's Jamie and if he said he is riding, he's riding. Guess I'll be driving the chase car.
*Please note the word "interesting" in the title means only interesting to me, not necessarily to anyone else on this planet. But it's my blog, so deal with it. I meant that in a nice way.
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