Aspiring football player Caleb Seymour dreams about playing for the New England Patriots. He idolizes Tom Brady and will be wearing his #12 jersey on Super Bowl Sunday. Three years ago, when Caleb was 8-years old, he forged a different bond with his hero. Caleb, like Brady, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing football.
Caleb’s parents, Lisa and Michael Seymour of Holden, Maine, brought their son to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of the sports medicine division, reconstructed Caleb’s torn ligament in November 2011.
But Caleb faced a long road—recovering from an ACL injury is a six-to-nine month process. It meant no football. It was tough to sit on the sidelines, says Caleb.
But Caleb got some special advice about rehabilitating his knee and preventing future ACL tears during a surprise visit from Tom Brady himself.
“He was so nice to me and motivated me to keep working hard on my knee and keep playing football,” says Caleb. “I know he will motivate his team to do good and WIN!!!”
Now, Caleb hopes to return the favor with some advice for other young athletes.
“Make sure you stay active and healthy and always stretch before you play any sports. If you do tear your ACL or hurt your knee, don’t give up or stop playing the sports you love. Work hard doing the exercises your doctor tells you to and never never give up.”
Caleb knows because that’s exactly what he did after his ACL tear.
After his injury, Caleb continued as manager of his football team. He never missed a game. “He had a constant positive attitude for his team and always had a smile,” says Lisa.
Last year, Caleb returned to football as his team’s starting center and also played defensive end.
“It was hard for me to see him out there and I worried every day that he may re-injure his knee,” admits Lisa.
“Re-injury in a concern,” says Kocher. “By participating in an ACL injury prevention program, Caleb is doing all of the right things to minimize the risk of re-tearing his ACL.”
“Caleb will always have to work hard on keeping his knee healthy and has a lifetime of work ahead of him to keep healthy and active. Meeting his heroes of the New England Patriots definitely has motivated and inspired him to do just that,” says Lisa.
Caleb is hoping for a little extra inspiration in the form of a Patriots’ win and the Lombardi trophy on Sunday. “It’s going to be a close game, but the Patriots are definitely going to win,” he predicts.
Learn about ACL injury prevention and return to play programs at The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention.