Functional assessments for decision-making regarding return to sports following ACL reconstruction. Part II: clinical application of a new test battery

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2015 May;23(5):1283-91. doi: 10.1007/s00167-015-3546-3. Epub 2015 Feb 28.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to utilize a novel functional test system to facilitate determining the time of return to sports following ACL reconstruction.

Methods: Sixty-nine patients with unilateral ACL reconstruction were included in this pilot study. All the patients performed a standardized test battery consisting of one- and two-legged stability tests, counter movement jumps, speedy jumps, plyometric jumps and a quick feed test. The first test was administered on average 170.7 ± 75.1 days post-operatively, and the retest was administered on average 239.1 ± 79.7 days post-operatively. The values of the subtests were compared with the normative data of healthy gender- and age-matched controls to determine the functional capacities of patients following ACL reconstruction.

Results: After the first and second test, 15.9 and 17.4 % of the patients met the criteria for a "return to non-competitive sports". One patient fulfilled the criteria for a "return to competitive sports" after the second test battery. The most limiting factor was a poor LSI value of <90 % if the dominant leg was involved and <80 % if the non-dominant leg was involved.

Conclusion: This test battery demonstrates that, in terms of neuromuscular abilities, most patients, compared to healthy controls, are most likely not ready for a safe return to sports, even 8 months post-operatively. This should be considered in the future to determine when it is safe to return to sports and should avoid a premature return to competitive sports.

Level of evidence: III.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / rehabilitation*
  • Decision Making*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Return to Sport / physiology*
  • Young Adult