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Prehabilitation – a Key Part of Recovery for ACL Reconstruction

Prehabilitation ACL recovery

Are you about to undergo ACL reconstruction surgery? Did you know what you do before surgery could affect your knee function for many years down the track? And may even affect your chances of returning to sport?

Prehabilitation is the term given to rehabilitation before surgery and has the purpose of improving strength and function prior to undergoing the procedure.
In the case of ACL reconstructive surgery, prehab has been demonstrated to be extremely beneficial and have long lasting positive effects on knee function after surgery.  It’s also really important to achieve a quiet knee pre-op so you can exercise within guidelines while you are working on getting the swelling down in your knee.

One study found that completing 5 weeks of ACL pre-operative physiotherapy, including intensive strength and neuromuscular training, greatly increased the likelihood of returning to sport. 72% of patients who completed prehab returned to pre-injury level sport compared to 63% of patients who did not complete any prehab (Failla et al, 2016).

Research has also shown that patients who had weaker quadriceps (muscles in the front of the thigh) before undergoing ACL surgery had much greater quadriceps weakness two years later. Interestingly, pre-operative quadriceps strength was also the stronger predictor of knee function two years after ACL reconstruction surgery, meaning that the stronger these muscles are prior to surgery, the better the knee function two years after surgery, and visa versa.

So, if you have recently injured your ACL and are awaiting ACL reconstructive surgery, why not use that time to build strength and improve your knee function as best you can. What you do now will significantly impact your knee years from now!

If you need help with getting your knee ready before ACL surgery, come and see us at either Burleigh or Broadbeach and start your prehabilitation program today.

Written by – Addie Green, Physiotherapist

1. Eitzen I, Holm I, Risberg MA. Preoperative quadriceps strength is a significant predictor of knee function two years after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2009;43:371-376.

2. Failla MJ, Logerstedt DS, Grindem H. et al. Does extended preoperative rehabilitation influence outcomes 2 years after ACL reconstruction? A comparative effectiveness study between the MOON and Delaware-Oslo ACL cohorts. Am J Sports Med. 2016;44(10):2608–2614.

3. Grindem H, Granan LP, Risberg MA, et al. How does a combined preoperative and postoperative rehabilitation programme influence the outcome of ACL reconstruction 2?years after surgery? A comparison between patients in the Delaware-Oslo ACL Cohort and the Norwegian National Knee Ligament Registry British Journal of Sports Medicine 2015;49:385-389.


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