Ready for College Soccer After ACL Surgery

Landen Williams

Landen Williams has been playing soccer since the age of 7. He made the varsity team at Plainfield High School (Plainfield, Ind.) his freshman year and competed in the state finals with his club team, Westside United.

Landen also played for the Indiana Fire Academy, a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the Indiana Fire Juniors to train the best youth players in the U.S. Currently, he plays for the FC Pride Soccer Club, part of Boys Elite Clubs National League.

Despite suffering an ACL tear that took him out of the game during the spring of his junior year—a crucial time for recruiting college athletes—17-year-old Landen is still planning to apply to colleges where he can play Division I Men’s Soccer and study pre-med. With the help of Shelbourne Knee Center’s research-based rehabilitation program, which accelerates recovery, he is back on track to achieve his goals.

Extensive ACL Experience

In March 2018, Landen was going in for a tackle during practice at the FC Pride Soccer Club when he felt a pop in his left knee. Over the next few days, his knee was a little swollen and then started to feel better. But when Landen returned to practice a week after the injury, his knee buckled. He and his parents knew that something was seriously wrong.

A sports medicine physician at an Indiana hospital ordered imaging and diagnosed an ACL tear. Instead of going to one of the orthopedic surgeons the sport medicine physician recommended, Landen’s father, Shawn, chose K. Donald Shelbourne, MD.

“My knee doctor was one of the doctors they recommended for Landen,” says Williams. “But for Landen, I wanted a doctor who focused on young athletes and had extensive ACL experience.”

Accelerated Recovery

“We have a system in place to help athletes like Landen get better and get back to play,” says Dr. Shelbourne, founder of Shelbourne Knee Center.

Landen underwent pre-operative physical therapy to resolve swelling and restore normal knee range of motion (ROM) at Shelbourne Knee Center. Part of the rehabilitation program for all patients, this is based on Dr. Shelbourne’s research showing that returning the knee to a normal state except for the ACL tear before surgery accelerates recovery and allows patients to more easily achieve their goals (1).

On April 23, 2018, Dr. Shelbourne performed a left knee ACL reconstruction with a contralateral patellar tendon autograft, using a graft harvested from the right patellar tendon. During the procedure, he found a stable undersurface peripheral medial meniscus tear, which he treated with trephination and left in situ. Using trephination instead of repairing the meniscus tear is based on Dr. Shelbourne’s research finding that trephination with weight-bearing is sufficient to heal meniscus tears seen at the time of ACL surgery (2).

Post-operative rehabilitation emphasized immediate return of full knee extension and flexion, followed by strengthening exercises. With guidance from Dr. Shelbourne and Landen’s physical therapist, Landen completed the rehabilitation on his own at home.

“Dr. Shelbourne made my son feel comfortable and explained his approach to getting Landen back on the field as fast as possible,” says Williams. “He said the surgery is only a small part of Landen’s overall journey.”

Landen’s Outcome

At two months post-op, ROM, strength and stability testing showed that Landen’s left knee was close to normal:

  • Range of motion:
    • From 5 degrees of hyperextension to 150 degrees of flexion.
    • Equal to the non-ACL knee.
  • Stability testing:
    • Normal.
  • Leg press strength testing:
    • Quadriceps muscle strength: 79% (the goal for return to team competition is 85%).

“Patients like Landen who go through our proven, step-by-step process have a good result,” says Dr. Shelbourne.

Landen is working hard to return to play at the FC Pride Soccer Club this fall. He and his family are looking at colleges with good pre-med programs and D1 soccer teams.

“Dr. Shelbourne and his staff have made this experience very easy for us,” says Williams.

To schedule an initial appointment or second opinion, please call 888-FIX-KNEE. To refer a patient for a consultation, visit


  1. Shelbourne DK. Thirty-five Years of ACL Reconstruction, presentation at Andrews University, February 2018.
  2. Shelbourne KD, Gray T. “Treatment of Meniscus Tears with Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction.” In Prodromos CC (ed), Anterior Cruciate Ligament: Reconstruction and Basic Science, 2nd edition. Elsevier, Philadelphia, PA, 2017.