Returning to Play After ACL Reconstruction
After any injury, the most common question we get asked is, when can I return to the sport I love? Those who have suffered from an ACL tear and require reconstruction are often worried about a lengthy recovery or, worse, that they will never be able to resume sport at the same level as before.
A successful ACL reconstruction aims to return the patient to the same level of sporting activities and a recent study found that a patient who can return to play is more likely to record high satisfaction levels with the outcome of their surgery. However, not all patients do return to competitive sports after ACL and so improving current practice in relation to this aspect is always our commitment.
A checklist for safe return to play
Based on a recent study, it seems that a return to play checklist that determines when it was safe for athletes to return to play could reduce the risk of reinjury.
In the past, length of time was often the key criteria in determining return to play. All patients differ in terms of how quickly they recover though so it is essential we provide patients with a more bespoke approach. For those who aren’t professional athletes, the road to recovery can often be unpredictable and real life often gets in the way of rehab.
What should we be looking for?
- Physical examination
- Functional outcome score
- Balance tests
- Quadriceps and hamstring strength: with a close approximation to the uninjured side.
- Hop testing: this is one of the most used functional tests and includes single leg, cross-over, 6 metre timed hop, triple and single-leg hop height tests.
- Agility testing: this covers tests like the T-Test which is a simple fitness and agility test, using just four cones, a tape measure and stopwatch. By measuring how quickly they can change direction accurately it is possible to test agility.
- Movement assessment for jumping and landing mechanics: clinical evaluations such as the Landing Error Scoring System (LESS) can examine jump-landing mechanics.
Psychological factors are often responsible for a delayed return to play after ACL reconstruction so ensuring the patient is fully confident in the outcome of their surgical procedures is essential. Mr Jonathan Webb will work closely with you physio to ensure your return to play is as smooth as possible.