Study design: Case report.
Objectives: To present a progressively increasing negative-work exercise program via eccentric ergometry early after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACL-R) and to suggest the potential of negative work to amplify the return of quadriceps size and strength.
Case description: The patient was a 26-year-old highly active recreational athlete who sustained an ACL tear while skiing in January 2004 and then again while skiing in February 2005. This individual underwent an arthroscopically assisted ACL-R with a double-loop semitendinosusgracilis autograft initially, then a patellar tendon autograft following his ACL graft rupture. Beginning within 3 weeks after surgery, a progressive negative-work exercise program was initiated using an eccentric ergometer. The patient completed 31 training sessions of 5 to 30 minutes in duration over a 12-week period following the ACL-R and 33 training sessions of the same frequency and duration following the ACL revision.
Outcomes: Following ACL-R, quadriceps volume increased 28% (involved lower extremity) and 14% (uninvolved lower extremity) during the 12-week training program. Following revision, quadriceps volume returned to similar levels at the same postoperative period as those achieved after the initial surgery (2% less on the involved side and 2% greater on the uninvolved side). Quadriceps strength, 15 weeks after ACL-R, exceeded preoperative measures by an average of 20% (involved) and 14% (uninvolved). Quadriceps strength after ACL revision exceeded all previous measures.
Discussion: This case report suggests that if gradually and progressively applied, negative work via eccentric ergometry can be both safe and efficacious early after ACL-R. Eccentric exercise may mitigate the prevalent muscle size and strength deficits commonly observed after ACL-R. The results of this case suggest a need for continued research with early negative work interventions following ACL-R.