Karacan's Reading FC recovery amazes medical expertsBy Jonny Fordham
August 08, 2012
Dogged midfielder Jem Karacan returned to full training this week – much to the amazement of medical experts.
In fact Karacan should be nowhere near the stage of recovery that he is after Leeds United’s Michael Brown snapped his ankle in a horrific tackle in April.
The 23-year-old could have been out for up to a year according to doctors, but Karacan has made a remarkable comeback in just three-and-a-half months following surgery on the day that Royals secured promotion back to the Premier League.
Speaking to the Reading Post, head physio Luke Anthony gave his professional view of Karacan’s break.
“Jem’s injury should have been worse than what it is,” admitted Anthony.
“It should have been a fracture and dislocation. His surgeon saw it and thought the same thing.
“He should have been out for around nine to 12 months because of the way he was scissored at high speed.”
One reason why tough-tackling Karacan may have escaped sitting on the sidelines for a whole season is the work that Reading do with their players on injury prevention.
Twice a week Royals’ stars take part in specifically targeted exercises and stretches before they begin full training.
“The injury prevention work can’t stop injuries from happening, but what you hope is that it strengthens the leg to take some of the force out of it,” explained Anthony.
“We work hard on injury prevention and do exercises before training twice a week to help prevent knocks such as ankle sprains, knee ligament damage, hip, groin, quads etc.
“The boys work hard on that throughout the season too.
“We work on the guys’ balance, the muscles around their ankles and knees and their ability to react to changes in forces placed around them.
“If you can get the joints strong enough the theory is that you can help prevent injury and players could ride those tackles better.
“It could have been a lot worse for Jem, but he looks pretty good now.”
But it’s not just the physical battle that Reading’s medical team face when preparing a player like Karacan to come back from injury.
Taking care of mental side is also a crucial step in making sure players come back ready for action.
Anthony said: “It’s human nature that you will have a few reservations subconsciously.
“It’s as much psychological as it is physical.
“What you don’t want is players having a brain freeze on the pitch after an injury.
“Different injuries and different personalities need building up in different ways.
“You need to put them in a position where they can overcome (any fears) and repeat exercises.
“It can be tough to replicate contact. But with certain drills you can control it and that’s part of the rehab process too.”
Despite Karacan’s injury, Royals had a solid record last season in terms of keeping players on the pitch.
Goalkeeper Adam Federici played through the pain with a rib problem and Mikele Leigertwood also battled through despite a thigh strain.
Winger Jimmy Kebe had an operation on a knee injury at the end of the season which had to be managed during the 2011/12 campaign – but he still managed to turn out 33 times for Brian McDermott.
“We always look at our end of season stats,” added Anthony.
“It’s difficult to tell (if it’s been a successful season with injuries) because we have a small sample size and whether or not they stay fit because of what you do – you never quite know.
“We operated at about 95 per cent availability for games, which means on average players were missing around one or two games a season.
“So that’s pleasing after a long season.”