Recovery after ACL reconstruction requires a thorough rehabilitation programme to ensure optimal function of the knee. The long term goal should be a return to sport and a correction of pre-injury deficits making the patient a better athlete than before their ACL injury.
The rehabilitation program must consider multiple factors. Following implantation the human body will use the ACL graft as a scaffold to remodel into a ligament in a biological process that takes in excess of 12 months. During this time the ACL graft has significantly less strength than a normal ligament making it vulnerable to injury with low force.
During the 12 months of the graft donor turning into a functional ligament. It is important to work on other deficiencies such as muscle weakness, impaired coordination and balance and altered reaction times. The rehabilitation process must respect both muscular and neural deficiencies as well as the biological process of the healing ACL.
Stages of Rehabilitation
The phases of recovery after ACL reconstruction can be considered to broadly follow 6 stages. The
goals of each stage should be achieved before progression to the next stage.
- Prehabilitation before surgery
- Acute Recovery
- Muscular Control & Coordination
- Proprioception and Agility
- Sports Specific Skills
- Return to Play
Time is just a number in ACL recovery – every case is different.
We recognize that GOAL based rehabilitation
is far superior to TIME based rehabilitation….
but biological healing must also be respected
Thanks for reading, for more on ACL’s:
By Patrick Mcfadyen