Whether you’ve undergone surgery, are awaiting it, or have chosen a non-surgical approach, every athlete’s recovery from this injury is unique. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the rehabilitation process and emphasize the critical importance of where you choose to undergo your PT.
Startlingly, only 55% of individuals return to competitive sports following ACL surgery. Even more concerning, approximately 25% of those who do return end up experiencing a second tear. These statistics may be higher than you’d anticipate, and there are several common reasons behind these challenges:
- Premature Return to Activity: Some patients are cleared to return to activity before they are truly ready.
- Generic Rehab Plans: Many rehabilitation plans are overly generic and fail to cater to an individual’s specific needs.
- Timelines Over Criteria: Patients are often treated based on fixed timelines rather than their actual progress and readiness.
- Lack of Thorough Strength Testing: Returning to sports without a thorough assessment of strength can lead to complications.
- Inadequate Loading: Patients might not be properly prepared or strengthened, which can result in weakness.
This is precisely why the choice of where you receive your rehabilitation matters significantly.
At The Charlotte Athlete, our team consists of fellowship-trained Doctors of Physical Therapy who are passionately committed to helping you regain your peak performance. In conventional, insurance-based clinics, you may find that you receive a standard evaluation and are assigned generic exercises. However, even from the very beginning of your rehabilitation journey, personalized plans are essential for your success.
A tailored approach helps protect the surgical reconstruction in the early stages of rehab, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for later stages. This personalized approach allows us to address the root causes of the injury and reduce the risk of recurrence. A comprehensive program should encompass addressing imbalances, coordination, strength, power, and agility. Any deficiency in these areas can hinder your ability to return to sports, running, or even everyday activities like climbing stairs at home.
Rehabilitation plans typically include timelines for progressing through various stages of recovery. While these timelines provide a rough guide based on how long it takes the body to heal after surgery, they often neglect to consider the individual’s performance and strength during the rehabilitation process.
This is where criterion-based progression becomes invaluable. Under this approach, individuals must meet specific physical milestones to advance in their recovery. By using the timeline as a reference, we can ensure that you progress safely and effectively while considering the unique circumstances of your knee. Meeting these progression criteria may occur at different times for each person, allowing us to be both aggressive and safe, tailoring our approach to YOUR specific needs.
In a traditional rehab setting, you may receive 45 minutes of a therapist’s time (if you’re lucky!), which is often shared with one or two other patients, or you might be handed off to an athletic trainer or assistant to guide you through your exercises. At The Charlotte Athlete, you get the undivided attention of your Doctor of Physical Therapy during a full one-hour session. We maintain consistent communication outside of your clinic visits and are readily available to ensure you stay on track with your rehabilitation, weightlifting program, and any other areas of your life that may be impacting your recovery.
In conclusion, you don’t want to be among the 45% of athletes who fail to return to competitive sports post-surgery due to a perceived decline in performance. A 25% re-tear rate is alarmingly high, and we take this statistic personally, with a determination to change it. Your rehabilitation journey not only affects your return to sports but also your ability to carry out everyday tasks like climbing stairs.
At The Charlotte Athlete, we often work with mid to late-stage ACL athletes or those who never returned to sport. In many cases, we find ourselves taking these athletes back to the early stages of rehab because the foundation was never properly established in previous physical therapy. As a result, issues such as increased pain with light activity, instability, and a sense of the knee not functioning correctly arise. Even in the best-case scenario, this journey is long, so choosing the right physical therapist for your injury is crucial for your success. We take pride in specializing in the rehabilitation of ACL reconstructions the right way, ensuring you can confidently return to the field, court, or gym.
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Mike & Dr. Leah