ACL Rehabilitation Progression: Where Are We Now?
Cavanaugh John T,Powers Matthew
Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:With the increase of publications available to the rehabilitation specialist, there is a need to identify a progression to safely progress the patient through their post-operative ACL reconstruction rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction should follow an evidence-based functional progression with graded increase in difficulty in activities. RECENT FINDINGS:Clinicians should be discouraged not to use strict time frames and protocols when treating patients following ACL reconstruction. Rather, guidelines should be followed that allow the rehabilitation specialists to progress the patient as improvements in strength, edema, proprioception, pain, and range of motion are demonstrated. Prior to returning to sport, specific objective quantitative and qualitative criteria should be met. The time from surgery should not be the only consideration. The rehabilitation specialist needs to take into account tissue healing, any concomitant procedures, patellofemoral joint forces, and the goals of the patient in crafting a structured rehabilitation program. Achieving symmetrical full knee extension, decreasing knee joint effusion, and quadriceps activation early in the rehabilitation process set the stage for a safe progression. Weight bearing is begun immediately following surgery to promote knee extension and hinder quadriceps inhibition. As the patient progresses through their rehabilitative course, the rehabilitation specialist should continually challenge the patient as is appropriate based upon their goals, their levels of strength, amount of healing, and the performance of the given task.