ACL injuries can be devastating for an athlete. A tear to the ACL often requires surgery and the recovery time varies depending on your age and activity levels. Unfortunately, in most cases, return to sport for athletes can be anytime from 9 months to 2 years.
ACL tears are 4-6 times more common in women than in men. This is specific to movement patterns, strength differences, and laxity in ligaments due to hormonal changes. A majority of ACL injuries are non-contact in nature, meaning the tear occurs with cutting movements or landing from a jump.
If surgery is deemed necessary, your physician may order therapy prior to surgery or better known as prehab. Therapy will focus on restoring ROM and improving strength.
After your surgery, you will be seen in therapy within a week. Early on, therapy is focused on: • Restoring knee extension mobility • Decreasing swelling • Normalizing your walking pattern • Gently increasing knee bending mobility • Improving quadriceps contraction
After 4-6 weeks, therapy is then shifted to focus on building strength and restoring full mobility. Returning to run, agility exercises, and jumping activities usually begin around 10-12 weeks but may take longer if strength has not been restored.
Since injuring your ACL can be so detrimental, many youth and college organizations have started to initiate ACL injury prevention programs. Studies have shown that these programs can be up to 30-50% effective in preventing ACL tears in certain sports.
Physical therapy is crucial in the recovery of an ACL injury. There are many different interventions that can be used in your recovery and you will want to seek a trained therapist to receive the appropriate treatment. At our clinic, our staff are trained in helping athletes recover from this type of injury. We also offer injury prevention programs for individuals and teams.