Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, rehabilitation, and return to play: 2015 update

Open Access J Sports Med. 2016 Feb 24;7:21-32. doi: 10.2147/OAJSM.S72332. eCollection 2016.


Anatomical discoveries and a growing appreciation of the knee as a complex organ are driving innovations in patient care decision-making following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Surgeons are increasing their efforts to restore combined mechanical-neurosensory ACL function and placing more consideration on when to reconstruct versus repair native anatomical structures. Surgical options now include primary repair with or without reinforcing the injured ACL with suture-based internal bracing, and growing evidence supports biological augmentation using platelet-rich plasma and mesenchymal stem cells to enhance tissue healing. Physical therapists and athletic trainers are increasing their efforts to facilitate greater athlete cognitive engagement during therapeutic exercise performance to better restore nonimpaired neuromuscular control activation amplitude and timing. Knee brace design and use needs to evolve to better match these innovations and their influence on the rehabilitation plan timetable. There is a growing appreciation for the multifaceted characteristics of the rehabilitation process and how they influence neuromuscular, educational, and psychobehavioral treatment goal achievement. Multiple sources may influence the athlete during the return to sports process and clinical outcome measures need to be refined to better evaluate these influences. This update summarizes contemporary ACL surgical, medical, and rehabilitation interventions and future trends.

Keywords: arthroscopy; decision-making; function; knee; outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review