Anterior cruciate ligament tears are one of the most common sports-related injuries. Players are always anxious following an injury. They want to get back on the court, field or rink as soon as possible.
But with ACL rehab, returning to play faster and with full ability is a reality. Total rehabilitation of the injury helps to prevent the same problem recurring.
An ACL injury was thought to be a permanent problem that ended professional careers. But that’s no longer the case. With ACL rehab, patients are given a second chance. And now, the prognosis for those who’ve undergone reconstructive surgery for ACL is excellent.
Modern rehabilitation practices for ACL implicates 5 distinct recovery stages:
- Initialization – first 2 weeks
- Building – next 12 weeks
- Advance – at 3 to 4 months in
- Prep – at 4 to 6 months in
- Back to play – at 6 to 10 months in
Something important to keep in mind about the timeline shown is that it varies from person to person. Your fitness level and your commitment to recovery are 2 crucial factors. Some recover more quickly than others. Working closely with rehabilitation professionals assures steady improvement.
There are some key milestones which indicate that healing is taking place. One is being able to fully extend the injured leg from the knee. Another is responsive action of the quadricep muscle.
Your response to the surgery itself is another factor which must be considered. But one of the prime indicators of a successful recovery from an ACL tear is the frequency and duration of rehab sessions.
So, participating fully in the program you’ve been prescribed is paramount.
Age is also a factor in recovery but again, this is not consistent, as varying fitness levels impact this factor.
Some don’t expect the initialization phase to be as smooth as it is, but many patients are able to take their first steps during the first week of recovery, even without mobility aids.
Rehabilitation intensity should be increasing gradually in a successful rehabilitation. Pain and swelling govern therapeutic advances in this regard.
But regardless of any of these factors, it’s motivation to recover that most strongly characterizes your success.
When Can I Play?
This is the most important question on any wounded warrior’s mind. You want to get better – now. Patience is a virtue and that’s especially true of recovering from an ACL injury and resulting surgery.
4 months into the rehabilitation process, most patients can start doing basic sports activities. At 6 months, they’re able to re-start training efforts. This puts most athletes back on the field in between 9 and 10 months. These are basic guidelines according to the ACL recovery timeline accepted by most health professionals.
Meeting your recovery goals and getting back the strength of associated muscles should guide your actions and your health professionals’ recommendations. Rushing the process is unwise, as returning to play too quickly can undo all your hard work.
Contact Back & Body for multi-disciplinarian ACL rehabilitation.