Current concepts for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a criterion-based rehabilitation progression

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Jul;42(7):601-14. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2012.3871. Epub 2012 Mar 8.


The management of patients after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction should be evidence based. Since our original published guidelines in 1996, successful outcomes have been consistently achieved with the rehabilitation principles of early weight bearing, using a combination of weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercise focused on quadriceps and lower extremity strength, and meeting specific objective requirements for return to activity. As rehabilitative evidence and surgical technology and procedures have progressed, the original guidelines should be revisited to ensure that the most up-to-date evidence is guiding rehabilitative care. Emerging evidence on rehabilitative interventions and advancements in concomitant surgeries, including those addressing chondral and meniscal injuries, continues to grow and greatly affect the rehabilitative care of patients with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. The aim of this article is to update previously published rehabilitation guidelines, using the most recent research to reflect the most current evidence for management of patients after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. The focus will be on current concepts in rehabilitation interventions and modifications needed for concomitant surgery and pathology.

Level of evidence: Therapy, level 5.

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / rehabilitation*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / standards
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Male
  • Medial Collateral Ligament, Knee / injuries
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries
  • Treatment Outcome