Reduction of Risk Factors for ACL Re-injuries using an Innovative Biofeedback Approach: Rationale and Design
Nearly 1 in 60 adolescent athletes will suffer anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries with 90% of these athletes electing to undergo an ACL reconstruction (ACLR) at an estimated annual cost of $3 billion. While ACLR and subsequent rehabilitation allow these athletes to return to sports, they have a 15-fold increased risk of second ACL injuries. The modification of post-operative rehabilitation to improve movement and loading symmetry using visual and tactile biofeedback could decrease the risk factors for sustaining a second ACL injury. Participants included 40 adolescent ACLR patients who were intending to return to full sport participation. This preliminary randomized controlled trial (RCT) examined the changes in knee extension moment symmetry, a known risk factor for second ACL injuries, during landing from a stop-jump task between the following time-points: pre-intervention, immediate post-intervention, and subsequent follow-up 6-weeks post-intervention. Participants met twice per week for six-weeks (12-session). The intervention included bilateral squat biofeedback (visual and tactile); the attention control group attended weekly educational sessions. This RCT enrolled and randomize 40 participants over a two-and-a-half-year period. All participants were greater than 4.5 months post-op from a primary, unilateral ACLR and were released to participate by their treating physician. The findings from this pilot biofeedback RCT will provide critical effect size estimates for use in subsequent larger clinical trials.