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ACL Prevention and Rehabilitation

What is ACL Prevention and Rehabilitation?

There are 100,000 and 200,000 ACL ruptures per year in the United States alone. Current research states females have a 2-10x higher risk of tearing the ACL especially in cutting and jumping sports. (1,2) 

ACL Prevention: 

There is an ever-growing amount of research showing exercises that enhance the brain body communication are highly effective in not only ACL tear prevention, but also in preventing all types of injuries, and reducing injury severity. These studies support that by using a battery of performance tests we can accurately assess injury risk in athletes. To support youth athletes, Agile Physical Therapy offers to not only to design an individualized training program, but also administer research-based performance tests designed to detect asymmetries in strength, power, and neuromuscular control to prevent/reduce injury. 

ACL Surgery: 

Sometimes after a knee injury, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is torn and needs to be surgically repaired. In many cases, you may be sent to physical therapy for pre-surgical rehabilitation where you and your physical therapist will address your strength deficits and help you strengthen your knee muscles before surgery. Evidence shows that the stronger the muscles and the better the knee range of motion will result in better post-surgical outcomes. You and your surgeon will discuss which graft will be best for your recovery and lifestyle. The most frequent grafts used are allograft (from cadaver) or autograft (from yourself) and can be harvested from your patellar tendon, hamstring tendon and less frequently your peroneal tendon. 

ACL Rehabilitation: 

The success of an ACL reconstruction comes from your rehabilitation.  It is important to anticipate a good amount of time and effort to come from your ACL reconstruction physical therapy. Agile’s physical therapists are well versed in the rehabilitation process regardless of which graft was used for your reconstruction. Ideally you should start rehabilitation 1-3 days post-surgery to ensure you regain your range of motion and quadriceps activation as soon as possible to start regaining function by managing your pain and swelling. As you get stronger and start to return to weight bearing activities, your physical therapist will guide you back to your sport of choice. Using graded functional measures, your physical therapist and your surgeon will guide you to return to sport. Physical therapists will also use injury prevention screens to help clear athletes for returning to practice and games.  

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Reference: 

  1. Csintalan, Rick P et al. “Incidence rate of anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions.” The Permanente journal vol. 12,3 (2008): 17-21. doi:10.7812/tpp/07-140
  2. LaBella CR, Hennrikus W, Hewett TE; Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, and Section on Orthopaedics. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Pediatrics. 2014 May;133(5):e1437-50. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0623. PMID: 24777218.
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