Nearly 250,000 ACL injuries occur each year in Canada and the USA and are commonly seen in multidirectional and jumping sports including, but not limited to soccer, rugby, lacrosse, football, and volleyball.

Recovery to pre-injury level can often take nearly a year, though in some return to sport situations, it may be further extended. Early return has been linked to increased re-injury rates, and there is a high percentage who re-injure have never met substantiated objective criteria for return.

A physiotherapist is often the first professional consulted and can help guide you in the early days of management. Whether preparing for a surgical intervention – or going the route of fully conservative, non-surgical care, initial rehabilitation often looks very similar. Reducing swelling, maximizing range of motion, normalizing and introducing base strength once muscular recruitment are mainstays in this phase.

During the recovery phase, our focus moves from protection, into preparation. This stage exposes you to the basic athletic foundations – base aerobic conditioning, simple dynamic movements, slower task speed and low exposure volumes. For some patients who require only to return to low-risk activities and have low athletic demand – this may be your exit point.

For those who are returning to more demanding sports and categorized as high risk, athletic optimization and sport-specific technical abilities will be your next stages. These stages focus on the distinct athletic conditions your will be returning to. An example of and athletic optimization drill may be the requirement to quickly move laterally and change direction with a significant acceleration – it’s coupling tactical ability would require you to complete this task while reacting to another athlete’s movements while fatigued and taking contact. Simple, consistent and systematic become complex, varied, and chaotic.

Over the course of your rehab, we will monitor your progress with objective markers that are linked to reduced risk of re-injury and improved sport performance. This could include physiological fitness testing, jump testing, absolute and relative strength assessment, or sport-specific field testing. Being best informed of your status allows you to make an educated decision of your return to activity. It also helps us revise your programming to ensure we address deficiencies and preserve achievements.

Your return will change as a person, and as an athlete. Ready for anything.