Dominick Cruz's rehabilitation from two devastating ACL knee injuries could be considered complete when he returns to the Octagon in February 2014 to face Renan Barao at UFC 169. By then, it will have been more than two years since he last fought in October 2011.
Recently, Sport Science Lab (SSL) released a video featuring Cruz. He has been rehabbing his knee at SSL since the five month point following his second ACL reconstruction. This video features some candid comments from SSL founder Gavin MacMillan concerning the appropriateness of using a cadaver graft for ACL reconstruction in an elite athlete such as Cruz. (Cruz first had a cadaver ACL graft which ultimately failed.) In past months, I have posted on the risk of using a cadaver graft for ACL surgery. In the video, Cruz confirms that his cadaver graft failed to revascularize, or reestablish blood flow to the ligament.
While this video is a promotional piece for SSL, it reveals some of the more advanced components of Cruz's rehab at this point. Dominick indicates that he was not feeling challenged enough at other rehab facilities, and this ultimately lead him to SSL for his rehab at about five months following his second surgery. The component of rehab with the elite athlete that is often overlooked (and Cruz confirms as much in this video), is that it must include the whole body, not just the injured joint. An athlete that is accustomed to intense physical activity and training will have a difficult time engaging in mundane joint-specific exercise for more than a few days. SSL and Dominick seem to have struck the balance between common sense, safe rehab for his knee and true training exercise for the rest of his body.