Purpose: The aim of this systematic review was to determine whether lower limb postural control is restored in patients following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery when compared to healthy controls.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted. Electronic databases including Medline, Embase, SPORTDiscus and CINAHL were searched from the earliest possible entry to April 2010. Studies that evaluated postural control in patients following ACL reconstruction surgery with a control group using a force platform were included.
Results: Ten studies evaluating 644 participants at a mean 29 months follow-up were included in this review. In static balance tasks, there was a trend towards improved postural control in the control group for eyes-open but not eyes-closed conditions. Only four studies evaluated dynamic balance, and the results from these were somewhat mixed. Nonetheless, there was evidence to suggest impaired postural control in patients following ACL reconstruction surgery when compared to controls, particularly for more challenging tasks.
Conclusion: Although there appears to be a trend towards impaired static and dynamic postural control in patients following ACL reconstruction surgery, the limited number of studies and differing methodologies makes conclusions tentative. Deficits in dynamic tasks may be more relevant to people intending to return to sport following surgery due to the inherently dynamic nature of sport and should perhaps be the focus of future research.