HOUSTON, Tex. -- ACL tears are one of the most common sports injuries. Healing can take months. Now, a video game is here to help get people back on their feet.
NFL linebacker Kenny Pettway is spending his time off teaching kids the ins and outs of the game.
"I love running down the field and playing special teams, period," Pettway said.
His job is to keep the other team down, but last year, a torn ACL forced him down.
"On kickoff, I was running down," Pettway explained. "My foot got stuck in the ground, and at the same time, somebody grabbed my shoulder. It just blew my ACL out."
Pettway had a cadaver ACL implanted. Now, he's using a new video game-workout machine to help him get back into playing shape.
"Exercise is not fun especially when you're a pro athlete, and you can't do your thing," Russell M. Paine, P.T., director of rehabilitation at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute in Houston, Tex., said. "You need something to kind of give you a little competition during the exercise and to take your mind off the pain a little bit, too."
Different games help rebuild the ACL. In one, Pettway has to control his knee muscles to control a blue bar. Another tests his power. Another: duration.
But what's it like compared to his past rehab?
"It's more challenging," Pettway said. "It's a little bit more fun because you're playing a game and trying to beat your score. At the end, it gives you a graph and matches your scores up from the previous weeks."
This machine can also be used for hip and ankle injuries.
"When I first came here, I was on crutches," Pettway said. "Now, I don't need them anymore."
He says he'll be ready to get back in the game this fall.
Pettway played for the Jaguars and the Packers but was just recently released from his contract. He wants to get back on the field as soon as possible. He says because of this new game, his rehab was shortened by several months.
Copyright 2011 by Ivanhoe Broadcast News and News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.