ACL Injury Rehabilitation: Simple Steps to Reduce the Risk of Recurrence

NFL fans might have heard the Eagles’ Carson Wentz is most likely out for the whole season due to an ACL injury. Losing the sophomore Quarterback could have huge effects on the team’s performance. As mentioned in a previous blog, the impact of knee injuries to NFL team success is very significant. Playoff teams averaged $1.1M cap hit due to season-ending knee injuries. Non playoff teams have 2x more season-ending knee injuries than playoff teams.

Sport medicine staff are often under pressure to have ACL injury rehabilitation programs that get players back ASAP.

Sport medicine staff are often under pressure to get players back from injury as soon as possible. Often players return far quicker than expected. But is it worth the risk when it comes to ACL injuries? Recent evidence suggests that it’s not, as ACL injury patients that returned too early were more than 4 times more likely to get reinjured.

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ACL Rehabilitation that Keeps You Healthy after an ACL Injury

Thirty years ago, an ACL injury meant the end to an athlete’s career. But ACL injury treatment measures are far more advanced nowadays. Many athletes are back on their feet and playing after this type of injury. But re-occurrence is still an issue that impacts an athlete’s chances of returning again.

Of course, each sport should have its own specific return to play guidelines based on the demands of that sport. Athletes should always have a rehabilitation program that is as individualized as possible. Some considerations include age, previous injury history, positional demands and pre-injury baseline levels.

But what is the real secret to avoiding ACL injury recurrence? Timing. It doesn’t feel like much of a secret I know. But reinjury rate goes down by 51 percent for each month of a delay to a return until 9 months after surgery. After that, there is no further risk reduction noticed. Failure to meet return to play criteria meant reinjuries for 38.2 percent of those who rushed a return. The reinjury rate to those who passed RTS criteria? 5.6 percent.

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Another factor that plays in well is quad strength. When strength of both legs are equal, there is a lesser chance of reinjury.

The Name of The ACL Injury Rehabilitation Game- Patience

The rehabilitation process can last anywhere from 5 to 9 months after surgery. That can feel like forever for an athlete. But there is a process to it. And while some do return much faster, it’s always better to err on the safe side.

ACL injury rehabilitation is a patience game. Like the Elvis Presley hit goes, “only fools rush in.” Injuries take time to recover from. The more teams and players rush through the process, the higher the chances of reinjury. And that could be a move that could end one’s career for good.

Reducing Initial Injury Risk

Even if players do return from an ACL injury, the question is how much of them will we see on the field upon return? On an average, players lose a third of their efficiency after returning from an ACL injury. ACL injured players in the NFL also earn $2,070,521 less than their uninjured peers. Also, 20 percent of running backs and wide receivers never return to the NFL after sustaining an ACL injury. So avoiding this type of injury in the first place is key.

The next article will look into addressing some areas to reduce the risk of ACL injury occurrence.