ACL, MCL & Meniscus Tear with Return to Sports in 16 Months

What is your story about?
At age 22 I tore my ACL and partially tore my MCL and meniscus. I opted for surgery, and within 16 months was able to return to recreational basketball. Ultimately I would recommend the surgery to anyone who is committed to rehab and wants to return to 100% function.
How and when did your injury occur?
The injury occurred when I was 22 and playing touch football. I was sprinting and had my eyes on the QB for a few seconds and when I turned to look ahead there was another player on my team just standing still in one spot. I was almost at full speed so I tried to move around her instead of running directly into her. When I planted my foot to make the cut, I immediately heard a pop/snapping sound, felt pain in my knee, and went down to the ground. It was very painful in the minutes afterwards and I knew in the back of my mind that I had done something more than just tweaking my knee. I laid on ...(more)
What was your diagnosis process like?
After I left the field, someone came over to me who said she was a physical therapist and saw that I had fallen down and was hurt. I explained that it was my knee and she offered to do the Lachman test on the spot. I said ok, she did the test, and then she said she didn't think my ACL was torn. Jokes on her! I got an MRI about a week later and it confirmed the tear. Turns out I complete tore my ACL and partially tore both my MCL and my meniscus.
Which rehab exercises worked best for you?
My rehab was what the therapist told me to do for the first 4-6 months. I pushed myself in rehab because I didn't want to end up with a shortened range of motion or have a weak knee and up being the guy with the bad knee who can't play sports or participate in physical activity. I was only 22. So, I did all of the rehab exercises prescribed by my physical therapist and orthopedic. What I found most helpful was doing the stationary bike because it was low impact but allowed me to push hard when I needed to and back off if I need a rest. I was also concerned with making sure I got back my fall ...(more)
How was the recovery process?
After 4-6 months of rehab I was on my own, and in retrospect I may have got back into heavy powerlifting a little too early (I set a deadlift PR of 450lbs 4 months after surgery, and was able to boxsquat 315lbs). Overall, it took me about 16 months post-op before I felt confident to try any sports again (specifically basketball). 2 years out and I felt perfectly fine running, cutting, and lifting. At first I was nervous and was still having trouble shaking the psychological aspect of the injury but with time and persistence the nagging anxiety faded away. I wore a brace for a little bit but th ...(more)
What advice would you give others with your condition?
When I received the official diagnosis of torn ACL, partial MCL tear, and torn meniscus, I questioned whether I wanted surgery. I was scared because I had never had a major surgery in my life. I googled successful people who didn't have surgery or didn't have ACLs (check out Heinz Ward from the Steelers). As I was healing from my injury (pre-surgery) I would try to do athletic moves such as cutting or jumping etc. to prove to myself that I could come back without surgery and would be ok. However, I ultimately decided that I wanted the surgery because I was young and I wanted to have an active ...(more)