Caron Butler Discusses His Road to Recovery
How did the surgery go?
The surgery went great. I am on the road to recovery. The last six weeks I have been getting into the rehab flow of things Ė now I am in the water. I have healed up great with no infection and am moving forward.
Is a ruptured patella a common injury?
Tendon tears are very common. When youíre playing basketball, sometimes you play with a partial tear. When you have a ruptured patella that means you need surgery. Itís common in basketball. You see two or three injuries like this every year.
Do you feel better about the recovery process having gone through this type of injury before?
I feel pretty good. You hear a lot of talk and conversation about what to look for in this process. Everybody says that the rehab process is tough, but going through it at a younger age and now having advanced technology, things have changed. Rehab is something I really look forward to and I am working my way back. I kept a cheat sheet. The most important thing is to keep my quadriceps muscle firing at all times and that will make the process that much easier.
Is there less fear having gone through this kind of injury before?
I know exactly what steps to take moving forward. I have the technology now that I didnít have before. I sleep in a hyperbaric chamber. I do that once a day five days per week. That helps out with process and healing of the scar and the soft tissues around the knee. Thatís helping out tremendously. I also have the training staff whereas when I was 14, I had less medical support. Now I have a situation where people are working on me around the clock and giving me the care I need. Itís a great situation that I am in right now.
Whatís the timeline for recovering from this kind of injury?
I asked several doctors and trainers and the timeline for recovery is still pretty much the same. After surgery it takes the tendon a month to heal before you can start doing anything. Six weeks post surgery you can start rehab. It actually takes around three months for everything to be 100% and then a fourth month is usually needed for conditioning Ė to get yourself in optimum condition and shape. I have been trying to not eat as much, to watch my weight, and to ride the bicycle. These activities help me shed calories. I think I am going to be right on point around playoff time.
What type of rehab are you doing?
I am walking on the treadmill and in the water. That is something that is really helping the motion. You have to take baby steps. You have to learn how to do the simplest things all over again. Having had my leg straight for three-and-a-half weeks post-surgery, I had to learn how to bend it again. I had to learn how to walk on it again. But it is muscle memory. It happens rather quickly. So about a week-and-a-half after surgery, I started moving each muscle again. The process happens rather quickly. That was the biggest challenge Ė getting the motion back. And now that I have full range of motion, it is time to strengthen it.
When are you going to be back on the court?
I am a week-and-a-half away from getting on the court (as of 2/11/11). My main focus now is bicycling and building up the quad. A week from now, I get on the court. A week from then, I will be running on the court. I will go from there.
Is it difficult to stay in shape while rehabbing?
The toughest thing is to stay in shape and maintain your body weight. Whenever you have an injury where you canít exercise or move around or youíre on crutches, people tend to get depressed and sit around. Youíre told you canít be on your feet too often, so you do the things you do when youíre not on your feet: you eat, you play video games, and you talk on the phone. You pack on more calories.
Is there any specific nutrition schedule/plan you are on?
There is a plan. I focus on trying on eating a lot of things out of the water, like fish. I stay away from heavy meats and try not to drink soda as much.
How does this vary from your normal routine?
When you train during the regular season you donít have to worry about those things. Things are fast-paced, moving all the time, and youíre burning calories left and right. Youíre not stressed as much.
What are some suggestions you have for young athletes who go through a similar injury to keep themselves on track?
Listen to your physician. If you donít have a trainer, find someone who can help you through the process. It needs to be someone who has the experience, not someone who has dealt with the injury second or third-hand. It needs to be someone who has had hands-on experience with the situation that can really guide you or walk you through because there are definitely ways you can cut corners. Stay strong!
Have you spoken to other athletes, teammates who have gone through the same kind of injury?
Fortunately, I was able to speak with Alonzo Mourning. He has been like a big brother to me. He had the injury twice: once during the prime of his career, and then again at the end of his career. He rehabbed that injury and stayed retired.
Another person Iíve spoken with is Brendan Haywood. He also had the injury as a teenager, much like me. I have had guys that I could talk to about rehab and the timetable and what they think. I am able to see how long it took them, the situation they went through and whether they feel completely comfortable with what I am going through. Itís as much a mind thing as a physical thing.