There are several key components that must work together to ensure a successful recovery after an ACL injury; which include the following:
This is not a simple procedure and the success is hugely based on the surgeon’s attention to detail. Yet this is not the only thing needed for a successful recovery. A knowledgeable and motivated physical therapist is just as important. Physical therapy following the injury is incredibly important even before the surgery takes place.
There are roughly one hundred thousand ACL tears in the United States each year costing nearly two billion dollars. As this number is only increasing it isn’t clear whether the cause is from more people being involved in rigorous activities or if people are merely more prone to injury in their day to day lives.
Whatever the reason may be, this increase means that orthopedic surgeons will be busier than they ever have been doing reconstruction surgeries. Not to mention if an athlete is injured once, they are more likely to injure the same spot again… In fact, it has been reported that athletes who have sustained knee injuries are nearly ten times more likely to injure themselves in the same way again than athletes who have not received any injuries.
With this being said here are a few key things more people should understand when they are considering rehab choices following an ACL injury.
Research shows that a mere ten to fifteen minutes of warming up before rigorous activity can reduce ACL injury by up to 88%. A study in New Zealand revealed that through a mandatory injury prevention program soccer teams saved nearly $8 in recovery cost for every $1 spent in prevention.
In a 2013 study researchers found that patients who participated in rehab before surgery recovered nearly eight weeks faster than those who did not. In addition to a faster recovery, these patients also reported better relationships with their physical therapists and were better able to outline a recovery plan.
Three essential items included in pre surgery rehab are: symmetrical range of motion to the uninjured side, minimal or no swelling, and excellent control of the muscles in the quad.
It is a good idea to get patients started on doing exercises that they will continue to do after the surgery. This helps them know what to expect and helps the train the brain for what is coming next to help kickstart a recovery process after the surgery has taken place. Better understanding leads to better performance and thus better results.
Choose an experienced surgeon. Roughly eight out of ten orthopedic surgeons perform under ten ACL surgeries a year. Work with a surgeon who knows what he is doing and will perform the surgery in the most efficient way possible. Most importantly, you want a surgeon who listens to you and does what it is you want done. If you don’t know where to start, ask a physical therapist who deals with a lot of ACL patients; they will know who to recommend.
Just as it is important to pick your surgeon, it is just as important to pick your therapist. Therapy will suffer from poor surgery, and the opposite is just as true. The combination of good surgery as well as good therapy will likely end in a good recovery as well. It’s your quality of life at stake; take the time to research who is good before you make a final decision.
Here are some things to watch for when choosing a physical therapist:
Seven out of ten ACL injuries are non-contact injuries. This means that the cause of injury is likely from your own movement and not an external factor. Just as this does not happen overnight, recovery doesn’t, either. Just because a certain amount of time has passed or the doctor no longer considers you to be fragile doesn’t mean that you don’t have to still take things slow. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard so you don’t end up right back where you started. Rehab is a slow process, not a quick fix. But if you take your time and recover properly, you will be an even better version of you when you reach the end.