Recent advances in the rehabilitation of isolated and combined anterior cruciate ligament injuries

Orthop Clin North Am. 2003 Jan;34(1):107-37. doi: 10.1016/s0030-5898(02)00064-0.


The rehabilitation process begins immediately following ACL injury, with emphasis on reducing swelling and inflammation; improving motion; regaining quadriceps control; allowing immediate weight-bearing; and restoring full passive knee extension and, gradually, flexion. The goal of preoperative rehabilitation is to prepare the patient mentally and physically for surgery. Once the ACL surgery is performed, it is important to alter the rehab program based on the type of graft used and any concomitant procedures performed. This will aid in preventing several postoperative complications, such as loss of motion, patellofemoral pain, graft failure, and muscular weakness. The goal of this article has been to provide an overview of the application and the scientific basis for formulating a rehabilitation protocol following ACL surgery. For an athlete to return to competition, it is imperative that he or she regain muscular strength and neuromuscular control in their injured leg while maintaining static stability. In the past, rehabilitation programs attempted to prepare the athlete for return to sports by using resistance exercise alone. Current rehabilitation programs focus not only on strengthening exercises, but also on proprioceptive and neuromuscular control drills in order to provide a neurologic stimulus so that the athlete can regain the dynamic stability needed in athletic competition. We believe that it is important to use this approach not only possible causes that might predispose the individual to future injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Procedures / rehabilitation
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / rehabilitation*
  • Rehabilitation / methods
  • Sports