Among athletes, it would be fair to say that an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is one of the more dreaded injuries. While damage such as this in your knee can sideline you for a while, it’s not game-ending, especially if you use all the tools, namely physical therapy.
At TLC Physical Therapy, Jason LaMendola, PT, and our team of experienced physical therapy experts excel in helping athletes — professional and weekend warriors — to get back into the game after a sports injury. When recovering from an ACL tear, there is work to be done, but the outlook is good if you participate fully in a comprehensive physical therapy program.
Here's a look at the invaluable role that physical therapy (PT) can play in getting you back into the game.
Regarding ACL tears, PT isn’t merely an optional afterthought. Most orthopedists rely on physical therapists to provide frontline treatment and diagnosis. If your tear has been diagnosed through advanced imaging, evaluating the extent of the tear and how it affects your knee’s function often falls to us.
Our experience with ACL injuries guides us in assessing how much stability, range of motion, and strength may be compromised due to your tear, at which point we can make recommendations.
Of course, our goal is to help you avoid surgery, and we do our best. That said, there are times when PT alone may not be able to overcome the damage, so we may recommend that you consider ACL surgery.
As you can see, our role in your initial evaluations and recommendations is important.
We’re going to start this section with an eye-opening study comparing return to sport rates of those who fully complied with PT versus those who were minimally or noncompliant. The results were this: “As much as 86% of fully compliant patients were able to return to the preinjury level, versus 50% and 45% of the patients defined as minimally compliant and noncompliant, respectively.”
This success rate is because we know where to concentrate our (and your) efforts. Whether you’ve had ACL surgery or you’re relying on PT alone to recover from an ACL tear, we focus on:
We also take into consideration what your goals are for return to activity and work toward those. For example, someone who plays professional basketball may have different needs than someone who plays tennis on weekends.
Always at the back of our minds when we work with ACL injuries are steps that we can take to prevent re-injury of the ligament. As much as we love seeing our clients, we prefer to set them up for long-term success and not see them down the road again because of re-injury.
The bottom line is that PT can make all the difference in your ability to remain active after an ACL tear.
If you have more questions about PT and ACL tears, contact one of our offices on the North and South Shores of Staten Island, in Englishtown, New Jersey, or Midtown Manhattan in New York City to schedule an appointment.