COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is out for the rest of the 2011 season with a torn ligament. Lattimore is expected to have surgery in a few weeks, but how will that affect the rest of his career?
It's hard to say what next season will look like for Lattimore without knowing how severely his knee was damaged.
A running back depends on quick changes in direction, cutting and bursts of speed, moves made possible by four ligaments in each knee. "Between the four, they're coordinated stability for your knee," said Dr. Jeffrey Guy. "So when you lose one of those four ligaments, it prevents you from doing any high level activity, usually you can walk but anything above that makes it difficult."
Dr. Guy, USC Athletics Medical Director, is one of the experts treating Lattimore. Guy can not comment on Lattimore's case, but says ligament damage -- as painful and damaging as it is -- can be overcome.
The degree of recovery depends on the player. "Unless the athlete and trainers and physical therapists are dedicated to putting in the hard work, people have varying outcomes based on how hard they work."
We do know Lattimore will need surgery, the kind of work usually associated with a torn ACL. If there's additional damage, recovery will be more difficult, but possible. "The basic single ligament injuries most of the people go back if they put in the hard work and dedication, they go back to 100%," said Guy.
We do not know the extent of the damage, but Guy says athletes can be running again after about three or four months, and returning to their sports after about six.