Physical Performance Improves With Time and a Functional Knee Brace in Athletes After ACL Reconstruction

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Background: Athletes who return to sport (RTS) after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) often have reduced physical performance and a high reinjury rate. Additionally, it is currently unclear how physical performance measures can change during the RTS transition and with the use of a functional knee brace. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of time since surgery (at RTS and 3 months after RTS) and of wearing a brace on physical performance in patients who have undergone ACLR. We hypothesized that physical performance measures would improve with time and would not be affected by brace condition. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: A total of 28 patients who underwent ACLR (9 males, 19 females) completed physical performance testing both after being released for RTS and 3 months later. Physical performance tests included the modified agilityttest (MAT) and vertical jump height, which were completed with and without a knee brace. A repeated-measures analysis of variance determined the effect of time and bracing on performance measures. Results: The impact of the knee brace was different at the 2 time points for the MAT side shuffle (P= .047). Wearing a functional knee brace did not affect any other physical performance measure. MAT times improved for total time (P< .001) and backpedal (P< .001), and vertical jump height increased (P= .002) in the 3 months after RTS. Conclusion: The present study showed that physical performance measures of agility and vertical jump height improved in the first 3 months after RTS. This study also showed that wearing a knee brace did not hinder physical performance.



anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, return to sport, agility, physical performance