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Ryan Sollmann: My Last Game of the Season

The third game of Ryan Sollmann's season with the Dayton Flyers football team would be his last game of the season. The junior tailback planted his foot, made one quick move and experienced the painful snap of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This serious, yet common, sports injury had happened the day before to his teammate Joe Musselman in practice. Typically, the injury is very painful, and massive swelling starts within four hours. 

Ryan was attended to by team physician and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tim Quinn, who was once a Flyer football player himself. It was obvious to Dr. Quinn that both players required surgery. Dr. Quinn has found that waiting a few weeks before surgery while the trauma to the knee diminishes is helpful in avoiding stiffness during rehabilitation after surgery. During this waiting period the players' knees were iced, elevated, and carefully exercised to reduce swelling. A few weeks later, both players had knee reconstruction surgery on the same day. 

The procedure involves removing a thin strip of the patellar tendon connected to a chip of bone from the kneecap and shin. The bone is then grafted to the shin and thigh. The patellar tendon regenerates to normal size within two years. Using an arthroscope, Dr. Quinn performed the surgery by removing the ligament, cutting the patella and grafting the patellar tendon. Six hours later, Ryan and Joe both left the hospital. 

Rehab begins immediately after surgery. This prevents scar tissue from forming that could cause trouble with the leg straightening. During the first week after surgery, a physical therapist worked with the players, while they were on crutches, for ambulation and weight bearing. Then, team trainers worked with the players in the University of Dayton’s weight room. The players were Biodex tested at MVH Sports Medicine Center for progress. At three months, they were given the go-ahead to start jogging. Once the players were at 80 percent strength, they could resume normal athletic activities. By summer, the players were capable of returning to football training.

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