ACL Reconstruction: When is it Safe to Return to Sports?

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction is one of the most common surgeries performed due to a sports injury. ACL rehab and ACL prevention training is one of the hottest topics in the sports medicine world.

The Stats

The sad reality is that while 80% of ACL reconstruction patients return to some form of sport, only 65% return to the same sporting level. Within 1-2 years post-surgery, only 55% return to sport at a competitive level.

Those who fail the hop test (outlined below) are twice as likely to re-tear than those who pass it.

Return to Sport

The return to sport path is very unpredictable, unless you are a professional athlete. There are many variables during the recovery process. Often times, patients are willing to put in the level of work required to make a full recovery. With high school or college athletes the stress of life sometimes just gets in the way.

The Research

Recent research is indicating that the decision to return to sport should be based on meeting key performance criteria. This is opposed to the idea that an athlete will be ready within a certain “time-frame”.

Assessment

The good news is that there are some simple tests to tell whether or not you’re ready to return to sport. We’re going to go over those below.

The goal for each of these tests is for your recently injured limb to be within 10% of your uninjured limb. Poor performance on the hop tests can identify if you’re at risk of re-injury.

Single Leg Hop Test

In this test, you will be asked to jump as far as possible on each leg. You must stick the landing for it to count.

Triple Hop Test

You’ll need to hop three times, consecutively, as far as possible on the same leg, sticking the landing. This test is especially important to do prior to return to sport, as it puts a very high demand and impact on one leg. It is a great movement test to look at strength, stability, and motor control.

Crossover Triple Hop Test

This test consists of three consecutive hops on the same leg. The goal is to go as far as you can, while also crossing over a line. Just like in the other tests, you must stick the final landing.

Six Meter Timed Hop Test

You’ll be asked to hop as fast as you can on the same leg for six meters, aiming to stick the final landing.

What You Can Do

Give us a call to schedule your hop test! It’s better to make sure you or your child are actually ready to return to sport before doing so!

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