Relationship Between Physical Therapy Characteristics, Surgical Procedure, and Clinical Outcomes in Patients After ACL Reconstruction

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Postoperative rehabilitation is critical to optimize outcomes after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). However, the relationship between physical therapy (PT) and clinical outcomes is unclear. Objective: To describe PT characteristics following ACLR and to assess the relationships between PT characteristics, surgical procedure, and clinical outcomes. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Laboratory. Patients (or Other Participants): A total of 60 patients (31 females/29 males, age = 22.4 [9.2] y, height = 171.7 [9.9] cm, and mass = 70.2 [14.7] kg) with a history of primary unilateral ACLR (53.6% patellar tendon and 46.4% hamstring) participated. Intervention(s): Patients completed a performance assessment and rated subjective knee function prior to physician clearance (mean = 6.3 [1.3] mo postoperatively) and were contacted within 6 months of clearance to complete a PT questionnaire. Main Outcome Measures: PT questionnaire item response, knee extension maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) torque, peak isokinetic knee extension torque, single leg hop distance, and International Knee Documentation Committee were measured. Correlations assessed relationships between PT quantity and clinical outcomes. Independent t tests compared PT quantity and clinical outcomes based on return-to-sport status, readiness to return to sport, and surgical procedure. Results: Patients completed regular PT (2 d/wk, 25 wk, 58 visits) and were most likely to conclude when discharged by the therapist (68.3%). More than half (56.7%) returned to sport, yet most (73.3%) felt unready at discharge. Isokinetic torque was correlated with days of PT/week (r = .29, P = .03). Isokinetic torque and hop symmetry were reduced in patients who returned to sport (P < .05). Patients who felt ready to return completed fewer weeks of PT (P < .05). Patients with a patellar tendon graft completed more days of PT/week and total visits, but demonstrated lower MVIC torque, MVIC symmetry, and isokinetic symmetry (P < .05). Conclusions: Many patients felt unready to return to sport at PT discharge. PT frequency was associated with isokinetic torque, yet this relationship was small. Outcomes were reduced in patients who returned to sport, suggesting premature resumption of preinjury activity.

Dempsey, Hall, Cancienne, Werner, Diduch, and Hart are with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Norte is with the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, Athletic Training Program, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH. Goetschius and Hart are with the Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education, Athletic Training Program, Adrian College, Adrian, MI. Slater is with the Department of Kinesiology, Sports Medicine Program, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

Norte (grant.norte@utoledo.edu) is corresponding author.
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