Our athletes in a world of ACL pain

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Meg Slattery has recently ruptured her ACL playing basketball.
Camera IconMeg Slattery has recently ruptured her ACL playing basketball. Credit: Laurie Benson

Never have the words anterior cruciate ligament been talked about more than right now. Country sport is a way for people to spend time with family and friends and connect with their community, but anterior cruciate ligament injuries are cutting down athletes around the country. The Advertiser has profiled three local residents, who are all grappling with a separate set of circumstances, with one common link — the feared ACL injury. Cameron Newbold reports.

As a qualified physiotherapist, Kirsten Gault knows better than most what an ACL injury involves.

Gault, the sister of ex-Collingwood footballer Corey Gault, has grown up playing sport and has no plans to stop.

Now recovering from a second ACL tear of her own, she has plenty of perspective on the serious knee injury and how important firstly prevention and then recovery are.

Her initial ACL injury came playing in the inaugural women’s football season and the second, on her opposite knee to the first, came playing A1 netball in September.

A full ACL rupture, grade 1 medial collateral ligament and medial meniscus was the damage the second time around.

Gault is trying a conservative approach and is not planning a second reconstruction at this stage.

Now eight weeks after the injury, she is lightly jogging, hopping and stepping.

“I’m rehabbing as normal; if I notice any instability, I’ll get surgery,” she said.

“A second one is even harder, knowing what you have to go through and starting all over again but getting back to sport for me is a high priority for me.

“The conservative approach, being a physio, I wanted to try it out and hopefully, it works for me.”

Gault said the rise of ACL injuries through her work was evident.

Kirsten Gault is recovering from a second ACL injury.
Camera IconKirsten Gault is recovering from a second ACL injury. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“I’d see two or three a week at work, I’d say, especially in young adults and the statistics do say ACLs are increasing,” she said.

“The prevention measures do work and significantly reduce the rise, especially with women, and they are readily available for people.”

Much like Gault, Meg Slattery lives and breathes her sport.

The twin sister of Olympian and former Hockeyroo Kathryn Slattery was told the news of her ACL injury in the past fortnight.

A tough pill to swallow for the 26-year-old, who had hoped to play a significant role on her family farm in South Stirling for harvest.

A talented hockey player, Slattery’s knee was hit from behind when rebounding in women’s basketball and the initial diagnosis of a MCL injury was compounded when a follow-up appointment revealed a torn ACL.

“It was almost harder; thinking you have done an MCL and going yeah, I can manage with six weeks,” Slattery said.

“Then finding out it was an ACL, it just takes time to process. I came down (to Emu Point), sat by the water and drank two beers and rang Kat in Belgium.

“Emotionally, it is bloody tough, the long road ahead and realising your knee is never going to be the same again.”

Meg Slattery at Emu Point this week.
Camera IconMeg Slattery at Emu Point this week. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Slattery had a MRI scan this week and will visit her GP before making an informed decision on whether to operate.

“I may get away with playing hockey without the operation but I’ll get a consultation, speak to the experts and make an informed decision,” she said.

“There is so much that comes with surgery, time off work, you can’t drive and are at least 12 months from playing sport and I live alone, so that will be difficult.”

In September, Logan Stubber was crowned the best footballer in the region, winning the prestigious Kleemann Medal.

He was playing like one of the best players in the competition, not someone carrying an ACL injury.

As his knee become sorer after each game, Stubber had a scan that revealed he would join the growing list of cases of ACL injuries in Albany.

An electrician by trade, Stubber had his three-week post-operation check-up yesterday after undergoing a full reconstruction.

Footballer Logan Stubber played this season with an ACL injury.
Camera IconFootballer Logan Stubber played this season with an ACL injury. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The star midfielder is taking unpaid leave from work and will return on light duties when he gets off crutches and can get back behind the wheel. “I probably carried (the injury) for a year and a half,” Stubber said.

“All of a sudden, the whole thing went, it gradually got worse and worse and it would collapse, swell up and pain was there at the back end of the year.

“I was told last year when I initially felt something to get an MRI and I just waved it away and it came good — that was something I regret now.”

Stubber had his operation last month and is unlikely to play football next season, but that is the furthest thing from the 23-year-old’s mind right now. “It is feeling a lot better and healing how it should be,” he said.

“It will be five weeks off work and then light duties and being a sparky, there is not a lot of that so it definitely makes it hard.”

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