We all have known someone that has suffered this injury. For most of us, it is our son, daughter, sister, brother, or cousin. The amount of ACL injuries that have occurred post-COVID are alarming. We do not think that these injuries are just related to contracting the virus solely. Actually, we believe it is a multitude of things.
First off when you do get the virus, there is a lot of diminished neuromuscular function, due to inactivity. This bout of inactivity can be tied to multiple symptoms of COVID, which contribute to the increase in ACL incidence. In addition to this, there are a lot of athletes who do no strength train. With the decrease in activity over the past 2 years, and a subsequent increase in activity the increase in these types of injuries continues.
We are here to move towards the point of “ACL Re-injury Prevention”. After the injury has occurred, the return to sport is not 6 months post op, as a lot of athletes in undeserved regions of the country are being led to believe. 6 months post op is when most athletes are released by the surgeon to begin return to sport activities. The problem is that most athletes and/or schools (some junior colleges, smaller D1/D2 universities, and high schools) do not have a proper return to sport program.
In the world of rehab, most PTs, trainers, and strengthening/conditioning coaches are not always well versed in the world of return to sport, when it comes to ACL injuries. The fact that there has been an increase in ACL injuries really drives home the fact that re-injury prevention should be a focus going forward. Even adding injury prevention to this course of action, could contribute to the improve outcomes of preventing injuries.
One of the main things that could help decrease incidence of ACL injuries after the initial injuries, is a course of testing to address strength deficits, anterior knee pain (Bone Patella Tendon Graft), balance deficits, substitution patterns and agility. In addition to this, not adopting a one style fits all when generating a return to sport program.
Really focusing on the deficits in each patient is very important. This could be something as simple as open chain knee extension looking at peak muscle force with knee flexed and at the end of knee extension. We will continue this series with a YouTube video and podcast episodes. So please continue to follow us and ask questions as needed.