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Doctor: Saquon Barkley has 90 percent chance of returning at same level

Only a small chance of long-term issues for star running back

New York Giants v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

New York Giants star Saquon Barkley has a 90 percent chance of returning from his torn ACL with no drop off in athleticism or explosiveness, according to Dr. Kyle Flik, an orthopedic surgeon in New York’s Capital Region.

“I would bet that he’s got a 90 percent chance of returning and returning at the same level,” Flik told me. “That explosivenes is more due to his raw talent and strength. You don’t need an ACL to be explosive, to be honest. You do need it to be able to have a stable knee, to cut and pivot on. A reconstructed ACL can be just as strong as the native one.

“I wouldn’t be overly worried about that.”

Initial reports this week were that doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery will wait as much as two to four weeks before performing reconstructive surgery on the ACL. Flik, who obviously has not seen the imaging of Barkley’s knee or treated him, did study at HSS and believes waiting is the best course of action.

“I know those doctors there and I know their thought process,” Flik said.

“We learned many, many years ago, mainly from the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo. where people would be out there skiing and they would tear their ACL and the doctors out there would convince them to stay and have their surgery. Those surgeries were done during what I would call the acute phase, meaning very shortly after the injury within a few days. A lot of those patients got very, very stiff.

“So, what we’ve learned is that if you let the knee calm down a little bit, let the swelling subside, let that initial inflammation settle down and then do the reconstruction a few weeks later, two or three weeks, that those patients usually do better.”

Barkley also suffered a partially torn meniscus and strained MCL. If Barkley is going to have any long-term issues with the knee, Flik believes it could come from those ancillary injuries. Especially the meniscus.

“If he’s going to have an issue it’s that at the time of an ACL injury there’s come concomitant injuries, there’s usually some other injuries,” Flik said. “If it’s just an MCL that’s not a big deal, but a meniscus injury or cartilage injury — those affect people in a way that makes it a much more significant injury. Not that he won’t be able to get some more years in as a player, but it affects the future of his knee more in terms of the risk for arthritis and that kind of thing.”

[Dr. Flik’s bio | Dr. Flik’s Instagram page]