Background: Surgical outcomes following isolated posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (PCLR) have been noted to be less satisfactory than the anterior cruciate ligament. Limited understanding of optimal rehabilitation has been implicated as a contributing factor.
Hypothesis/purpose: The purpose of this review was to gather the literature related to isolated PCLR rehabilitation, extract and summarize current rehabilitation guidelines, identify timeframes and functional measurements associated with common rehabilitation topics and provide recommendations for future research.
Study design: Literature review.
Methods: A literature review was performed for scientific publications that include a detailed rehabilitation program following isolated PCLR, published between January 2005 and March 2018. Data related to weight-bearing, knee range of motion (ROM), brace usage, specific exercise recommendations and suggestions for return to running and sport activities were extracted and categorized.
Results: A total of 44 articles met inclusion criteria. Post-operative weight-bearing was discussed in 35 articles with recommendations ranging from no restriction to 12 weeks of limitations. Forty-two articles recommended the use of immediate post-operative bracing, the majority of which positioned the knee in full extension, with duration of use ranging from one to 12 weeks post-operatively. Although 30 articles offered detailed descriptions of ROM activity, there was significant variability in timing of initiation, angular excursion and progression of range of motion. Suggested timeframes for returning to sports activity ranged from four to 12 months, with only four articles providing specific objective strength or functional performance criteria necessary for progression.
Conclusions: There is substantial variation in nearly all aspects of published descriptors of rehabilitation following isolated PCLR. Most protocols are based upon biomechanical principles and clinical expertise, relying solely on timeframe from surgery to support rehabilitation decision making. Evidence to compare patient outcomes with specific loading, ROM progression and exercise strategies is currently lacking. Only a small number of protocols incorporate the use of specific objective performance goals to facilitate return to sport decision making.
Keywords: PCL reconstruction; physical therapy; posterior cruciate ligament; rehabilitation.
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Rehabilitation After Posterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Review of the Literature and Theoretical SupportJG Kim et al. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 133 (12), 1687-95. PMID 24068258. - ReviewThe review showed that flexion of 90° was allowed at around 6 weeks and prone passive flexion exercise or supine passive ROM exercise with posterior support was used to p …
Knee Rehabilitation After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction and RepairL Paulos et al. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 13 (2), 60-70. PMID 18796852.Reprinted with permission from The American Journal of Sports Medicine 9:3 140-147, 1981. Presented at the Interim Conference of the American Orthopaedic Society for Spor …
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Posterior Cruciate Ligament Tears: Functional and Postoperative RehabilitationCM Pierce et al. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 21 (5), 1071-84. PMID 22484415. - ReviewAn optimal set of guidelines for the nonoperative or postoperative management of PCL injuries has not yet been defined or agreed upon. Based on the current review study, …