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Breaking down the severity (and return rates) of a patellar tear

As the night goes on, there is more and more news to gather about Terry Wilson and the severity of his left knee injury. UK and Coach Stoops released a statement that explained Wilson’s torn patellar tendon and his season-ending surgery. Now, our friends with the Herald Leader have put together some very informative background information to help everyone understand the complexity of this injury.

Basically, it’s not great news.

The patellar is the knee cap, and the patellar tendon connects the knee cap with the tibia (shin bone). Once that tendon is torn, a person is unable to straighten their knee. It’s also a relatively-rare leg injury, with one incident report listing about 39,000 tears each year. That’s less than a third of the rate of ACL tears.

Here’s a picture I found from the Orthopedic Specialists of Seattle, for those of you who may be more visually-inclined.Image result for patellar tendon tear

Once the tendon is surgically repaired, it usually takes four to six weeks for the patient’s leg to be able to support their body weight again. Full rehab is listed at six to nine months.

This part is the most disappointing: the post-surgery recovery rate isn’t great, either. Here’s how the HL’s Josh Moore broke it down:

“[ESPN injury analyst and physical therapist Stephania Bell], citing a June 2016 study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine, said that in a sample of more than 550 orthopedic procedures performed on NFL players, those who underwent patellar tendon repairs fared the worst when it came to performance metrics (yards gained, touchdowns, etc.) and rate of return. Their explosiveness and strength are the most difficult things to recover.

“And their careers were shortened overall significantly,” Bell said. “It’s not to say that one individual can’t come back and be phenomenal, but it’s telling you that the odds are against them in terms of returning to form.”

That’s tough news to hear. Don’t give up on Terry Wilson – there are plenty of athletes who have overcome such injuries. But it’s not going to be easy.

For more information on patellar-related injuries, including the process for the surgery and examples of athletes who have overcome the same injury (and an unfortunate list of a few who haven’t), check out the link below.

[Herald Leader]

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

18 Comments for Breaking down the severity (and return rates) of a patellar tear



  1. Alex90
    8:36 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Why post this?



    • Melvit
      8:42 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      Why comment on the post?



    • KentuckyFan232
      8:48 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      To give us more information on the injury and it’s severity, idiot.



    • UKCatAttack
      8:49 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      I had actually intended to research this injury myself because I wasn’t very familiar with this type of ligament tear. I appreciate Maggie and the Herald Leader doing the work for me.



    • chardun20
      8:56 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      Melvit, I agree with you, it’s unnecessary.



    • Kentuckiana
      9:02 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      I actually enjoyed reading about it, that I read/showed the article to my wife.
      Informative Article



    • KYJelly
      7:25 pm September 9, 2019 Permalink

      Because it’s relevant information to Kentucky’s starting QB’s injury. You’re welcome



  2. Larkin123
    8:46 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    This kid presented himself well… it just sucks..



  3. maximumscott
    8:55 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Beau Allen cometh earrly



  4. Gocats30
    8:56 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Can also depend on where the tear is, if the tendon is torn in two or tendon intact but torn from the kneecap



  5. 4everUKblue
    9:01 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Terry is a tough young man, he will be back even stronger.



  6. UKInsider
    9:07 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Thanks for taking a ? in my Cheerios, Maggie.



  7. Duff86
    9:17 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    May we hear an opinion from a MD, not a PT?



  8. az1006
    9:27 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    There are plenty of variables to assess aside from simple statistics. Basing it on NFL players reduced the validity as is. How old were the players in those cases? What position did they play? Were they already in decline? How do we know for certain their careers were shortened due to the injury, and not some other factor(s)? It sucks to be sure, and this was informative. But it doesn’t mean Terry won’t be able to fully recover and be just as good as he was.



  9. Bluefelinefan
    9:48 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    The problem with this type of injury is the long duration that the knee has to remain stabilized in full extension.with bracing to prevent tearing the tendon again. This causes severe atrophy of the quadriceps muscle. This is opposed to ACL injuries where the knee is initially braced but allowed to bend. This greatly extends the duration of rehab required. He is going to get to know his PT’s very well. I wish him a full recovery.



    • DelrayCat
      11:27 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      good info here



  10. Hereforbeer
    10:24 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Thanks for the post – let’s hope for a return soon!