Background: Knee reinjury after ACL reconstruction is common and increases the risk of osteoarthritis. There is sparse evidence to guide return to sport (RTS) decisions in this population.
Objectives: To assess the relationship between knee reinjury after ACL reconstruction and (1) return to level I sports, (2) timing of RTS and (3) knee function prior to return.
Methods: 106 patients who participated in pivoting sports participated in this prospective 2-year cohort study. Sports participation and knee reinjury were recorded monthly. Knee function was assessed with the Knee Outcome Survey-Activities of Daily Living Scale, global rating scale of function, and quadriceps strength and hop test symmetry. Pass RTS criteria were defined as scores >90 on all tests, failure as failing any.
Results: Patients who returned to level I sports had a 4.32 (p=0.048) times higher reinjury rate than those who did not. The reinjury rate was significantly reduced by 51% for each month RTS was delayed until 9 months after surgery, after which no further risk reduction was observed. 38.2% of those who failed RTS criteria suffered reinjuries versus 5.6% of those who passed (HR 0.16, p=0.075). More symmetrical quadriceps strength prior to return significantly reduced the knee reinjury rate.
Conclusions: Returning to level I sports after ACL reconstruction leads to a more than 4-fold increase in reinjury rates over 2 years. RTS 9 months or later after surgery and more symmetrical quadriceps strength prior to return substantially reduce the reinjury rate.
Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Injury; Sport.
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