ACL Rehab

ACL Rehab

Kimberley Carson, PT discusses how physical therapy provides a vital role in getting athletes back to daily activities and sports after an ACL injury.

When athletes sustain an anterior cruciate ligament or ACL injury, physical therapy provides a vital role in getting them back to daily activities and sports. Prior to ACL reconstruction, specific exercises can be taught to the patient to help strengthen the knee. After an athlete has ACL reconstructive surgery, physical therapy is vital to restore range of motion, strength, and lower extremity biomechanics. Physical therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children's is provided in an atmosphere developed for teen athletes with a one to one ratio for the highest quality of care needed for maximum outcomes.

Physical therapy typically begins 3 days after surgery, where your therapist will remove the bulky dressing, clean the wound, redress the site with a smaller dressing, and adjust the post-operative brace as needed. An evaluation to assess your strength, range of motion, walking, and over all functional mobility (or how you are moving throughout your day) will take place. As you get stronger, the therapist will assess your overall strength; muscle balance, alignment and biomechanics to make sure your individualized program will address all your needs to get you back into your sport and compete at full potential. Initially we will begin gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises as well as assist with pain management through a variety of modalities. We will start you on a home program which is an integral part of your rehabilitation. We have found that patients who see us 3 days post-op come in feeling apprehensive and very uncomfortable, but leave feeling confident in their rehab plan with a positive outlook on their recovery. It has been our experience that the longer you wait to begin physical therapy following surgery, the more difficult and painful it is to restore your range of motion and strength. Discuss therapy with your surgeon before your surgery, so you can set up your appointment in advance.

What will my rehabilitation be like?

A physical therapist will implement a specific exercise program for you which is specific to the technique used by your orthopedic surgeon to perform your ACL Reconstructive surgery. The program will consist of of specific strengthening protocols (coordinated with your surgeon) to strengthen the knee and protect the new ligament while healing occurs. Your therapist will use manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, and PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) techniques, as well as modalities such as ultrasound, ice, and electrical stimulation (just to name a few). Don't worry if you don't understand these terms, your therapist will explain all aspects of your therapy program. Your program will advance in stages as the new ligament is healing. The final phase of rehabilitation is a tailored sport specific activity program designed to help return athletes to their sport. This final phase includes instruction in a sport specific ACL prevention program which targets exercises along with proper alignment or biomechanics to help prevent recurrence of an ACL tear or injury.

Physical therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children's is provided with one on one care tailored to the active teenager. An emphasis is placed on positive attitude, hard work, along with engaging activities for teen athletes. Johns Hopkins All Children's Sports Rehab gets athletes back into the game!

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Pediatric Sports Medicine

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