Posted on May 06, 2015
Few injuries seem as debilitating as those affecting the ankles, knees, or legs. These injuries impact mobility as well as agility and may require long periods of rehabilitation and physical therapy. But even the most severe leg injuries don't necessarily prove career-ending.
In fact, some professional athletes achieve their greatest performance goals in spite of this type of injury. These famous five represent some of the most notable comebacks after leg injuries.
1. Curt Schilling, Baseball Pitcher
Curt Schilling's infamous injury culminated during Game Six of the 2004 American League Champion Series. Back in Game One, he tore the sheath of the peroneus brevis tendon in his ankle.
For Schilling to pitch in Game Six, the Red Sox team physician sutured the tendon. Though Schilling finished the game and the Red Sox went on the series, the blood from his injury completely saturated his right sock.
2. Kerri Strug, Olympic Gymnast
No list of athlete injuries stands complete without acknowledgement of Kerri Strug. In the 1996 Olympics, the American all-around women's gymnastics team stood poised to win the Gold for the first time in history.
During Strug's first vault, she under-rotated and damaged her ankle. She had to perform a second vault to overtake the Russian team. Strug limped to the runway, but managed to complete her vault and land on both feet, immediately favoring her injured foot and saluting the judges. Her 9.712 score secured the Gold medal for her team.
3. Lindsay Tarpley, Soccer Forward and Midfielder
Lindsay Tarpley earned two Olympic Golds while on the US national team-at the 2004 Athens games and the 2008 Beijing games. In a 2011 match against Japan, Tarpley tore her ACL with only 15 minutes left in the game. The tear exacerbated a previous injury to the same knee back in 2009.
The injury forced Tarpley to sit out the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. While Tarpley never returned to the national team, she joined the Chicago Red Stars for the 2013 National Women's Soccer League season.
4. Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Ski Racer
Lindsey Vonn is one of only six women to ever win World Cup races in every alpine skiing discipline-downhill, giant slalom, slalom, super combined, and super-G. Vonn fought through multiple knee injuries throughout her career. In 2007, she sprained her ACL while training in Sweden.
Since then she's suffered bruised shins, ACL tears, and tibial fractures. Several times, injuries forced Vonn to withdraw from upcoming events, most notably the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In spite of these obstacles, Vonn holds spectacular records in her sport, including Olympic, World Championship, and World Cup honors.
5. Tom Brady, American Football Quarterback
Tom Brady plays as a quarterback for the New England Patriots and is widely considered one of the best American football quarterbacks ever. Over the course of his career, he's received multiple NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors, and helped his team set the current record for longest consecutive win streak in the NFL (21 wins).
In 2008, Brady injured his right foot and his left knee. The injuries prevented him from finishing the season. But in his first game back, Brady led the Patriots of a 25-24 win and earned recognition as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. He made his most significant career achievements to date after this initial injury and in spite of a 2014 ankle injury.
If you've suffered a knee injury, you may feel discouraged. But with the proper tools and time to heal, you, too, can make a comeback in your own life. Consult with your doctor, physical therapist, and a mobility specialist to give yourself the chance to overcome this injury.