ACL rehabilitation can be a long and intense journey.
More often than not, the rehab time frames for return to sport in professional athletes after a significant ACL injury is greater than 9 months.
The rehab requires a lot of determination and structure in order to be done effectively. At the end of the rehab some patients still aren’t sure whether they are ready to return to sport safely.
Although there are no perfectly defined tests in order to determine someone’s readiness to return to sport, Sport Physiotherapists can use a number of test to assess the overall strength and stability of a knee.
Some of these include:
ACL Strength testing:
Assessing the strength of both the hamstrings and quads of an individual is important to determine whether they have adequate strength in comparison to their other leg and also compared to different stages in their rehab. This can be done in a number of ways, at myPhysioSA, we use a hand-held Dynamometer.
Not only can this provide you with an indication of your strength, it can also guide your rehab and the exercises you should be focusing on.
3 x Crossover hop test:
The 3 x Crossover hop test is a test performed by the individual where they try to hop as far as they can 3 times on the same leg, whilst crossing a line on each hop. 3 attempts on each side are completed and compared to each other. An acceptable result on the rehabilitated side is to get within 5-10% of the unaffected side.
There are other hop tests that can be completed (as seen below) and these can be used in relation to different sports.
Agility running test:
An agility running test can be a good indicator of how much power, strength and control an individual has on their rehabilitated side compared to the other and compared to different stages of rehab. By going in different directions, you have the ability to bias different sides of the body which can be used as a comparison of each side. These times can be compared and calculated as a percentage of each side.
If you are nearing the end of your ACL rehab and are wondering whether you are ready to return to sport then perhaps come in and chat to one of our Sport Physios. They can take you through the above tests and other tests associated with return to sport guidelines to determine whether it is safe to return to play. They may direct you towards some preparation to play exercises that can help reduce a likelihood of a knee injury during sport. Check out our blog post on exercises for preventing knee injuries for warm-up exercise programs.
Author: Michael Wilson, Senior Physiotherapist at myPhysioSA Payneham.