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What to expect when considering ACL reconstruction

Here are some general principles that have been commonly followed in ACL surgery rehabilitation:

1. Preoperative Conditioning: Prior to surgery, it is often recommended to engage in prehabilitation exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve knee range of motion. This can help optimize the surgical outcome and facilitate the recovery process.

2. Early Postoperative Phase: Initially, the focus is on reducing pain, swelling, and restoring range of motion. Physical therapy may involve gentle exercises, such as heel slides, quadriceps sets, and ankle pumps. The use of assistive devices like crutches or braces might be necessary during this stage.

3. Progressive Strengthening: As healing progresses, physical therapy gradually incorporates strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles. This helps improve knee stability and support the reconstructed ligament. Exercises may include leg presses, squats, step-ups, and balance training.

4. Neuromuscular Control and Proprioception: Rehabilitation often emphasizes exercises to improve coordination, balance, and proprioception (the body's sense of joint position). These activities can reduce the risk of reinjury and enhance dynamic stability during sports or daily activities.

5. Functional Rehabilitation: As the knee gains strength and stability, the focus shifts to functional activities that mimic real-life movements and sports-specific demands. This may include agility drills, sport-specific training, and gradually returning to activities such as running, jumping, and cutting maneuvers.

It's important to note that ACL surgery rehabilitation should be tailored to the individual based on factors such as the surgical technique used, the person's specific needs, and the guidance of the treating surgeon and physical therapist. It's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for the most up-to-date and personalized rehabilitation protocol for ACL surgery.

Dr. Sharif Soliman, PT, DPT, ATC

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