A decision-making scheme for returning patients to high-level activity with nonoperative treatment after anterior cruciate ligament rupture

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2000;8(2):76-82. doi: 10.1007/s001670050190.


This report describes the development and current use of decision-making criteria for returning patients to high-level physical activity with nonoperative management of anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, and presents the results of treatment for patients who met our criteria as candidates for nonoperative rehabilitation and attempted to return to high-level physical activity with nonoperative management. The screening examination consists of four one-legged hop tests, the incidence of knee giving-way, a self-report functional survey, and a self-report global knee function rating. We screened 93 consecutive patients with acute unilateral anterior cruciate ligament rupture, classifying them as either candidates (n = 39, 42%) or noncandidates (n = 54, 58%) for nonoperative management. Of the 39 rehabilitation candidates 28 chose nonoperative management and returned to preinjury activity levels, 22 of whom (79%) returned to preinjury activity levels without further episodes of instability or a reduction in functional status. No patient sustained additional articular or meniscal damage as a result of rehabilitation or return to activity. The decision-making scheme described in this study shows promise in determining who can safely postpone surgical reconstruction and temporarily return to physically demanding activities. Continued study to refine and further validate the decision-making scheme is recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rupture