Date Published: 23 March 2012
Sports participation after knee reconstruction surgery
A recent study at La Trobe University, Australia, indicates that after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery (commonly referred to as simply knee reconstruction surgery) about 40% of people do not return to their previous level of sports participation. After more time passes the number of people actively participating in sport in the same way as they did before being injured drops below 50% by up to seven years after surgery.
Clare Ardern, who led the investigation from La Trobe University's Musculoskeletal Research Centre, followed over 300 people from two to seven years. Participants had either played Australian Rules football, basketball, netball or soccer before surgery. She said that while most people after surgery return to playing some kind of sport, only about 60% returned to playing at their pre-injury level. Athletes aged 32 and over were less likely to continue taking part in sport.
" This is a surprise because as a physiotherapist I would expect that previously fit, active and healthy athletes to return to playing their sport at a similar level to before they were injured. It suggests there may be other factors influencing the decision to return to sport" she said.
The 2012 football season will start soon and Clare Ardern cautioned that Aussie Rules footballers are at particular risk of injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) because of the twisting, turning and pivoting moves. The ACL is the ligament inside the knee that keeps the knee joint stable.
She said that to minimise knee injury, football players and other athletes should undergo targeted strength and neuromuscular control training programs to help control their knee movement and minimise the risk of injury.
She said the study's findings were important for athletes considering knee reconstruction surgery.
" Knee repair is big surgery and many athletes who choose surgery face a long road to recovery.
_ Injured athletes and their medical team need to know how likely it is that they will be able to return to their sport if they have surgery so that they can make a decision about whether having surgery is the right treatment option for them.
_ Some people find that they are able to function well without surgery, provided they have adequate leg strength to support the injured knee. Typically these are people who don't return to sport, or only return to low impact activities such as cycling, running and swimming. Other alternatives for people who do not wish to have surgery might be to avoid high impact sports such as Aussie Rules and netball, and to use a knee brace," said Ms Ardern.
" Knee surgery does allow people to go back to their sport but does not guarantee that they will return to their previous sports level," she added.
Ref. to Paper:
Return-to-Sport Outcomes at 2 to 7 Years After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Surgery was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
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Source: La Trobe University, Australia.