A review of systematic reviews on anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction rehabilitation

Phys Ther Sport. 2012 Nov;13(4):270-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


The aim of this systematic review of systematic reviews was to critically appraise systematic reviews on Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction rehabilitation to determine which interventions are supported by the highest quality evidence. Electronic searches were undertaken, of MEDLINE, AMED, EMBASE, EBM reviews, PEDro, Scopus, and Web of Science to identify systematic reviews of ACL rehabilitation. Two reviewers independently selected the studies, extracted data, and applied quality criteria. Study quality was assessed using PRISMA and a best evidence synthesis was performed. Five systematic reviews were included assessing eight rehabilitation components. There was strong evidence (consistent evidence from multiple high quality randomised controlled trials (RCTs)) of no added benefit of bracing (0-6 weeks post-surgery) compared to standard treatment in the short term. Moderate evidence (consistent evidence from multiple low quality RCTs and/or one high quality RCT) supported no added benefit of continuous passive motion to standard treatment for increasing range of motion. There was moderate evidence of equal effectiveness of closed versus open kinetic chain exercise and home versus clinic based rehabilitation, on a range of short term outcomes. There was inconsistent or limited evidence for some interventions. Recommendations for clinical practice are made at specific time points for specific outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome