By Frank Long, MS, Editorial Director

Incomplete rehabilitation that leads to ACL reinjury may be costing many young athletes a second chance at playing sports. That’s the conclusion John Doherty, ATC, PT, shares in his review of a recent study published in Sports Health authored by Sue Barber-Westin and Frank R. Noyes, MD.

Decisions about allowing players return to sport are likely the key in this phenomenon, according to the case Doherty lays out. He notes that many of the second injuries reported in the study were caused by what Noyes concludes are surgeons “relying too much on time since surgery and manual muscle tests, rather than objective strength and function tests.”

In contrast, an ACL reinjury occurred in only about 5% of male athletes whose median age was 21.5 years when they participated in a rehab program that included exercises aimed at challenging and improving balance. Those findings from 2018 reported by Arundale, Capin, Arazycki, Smith, and Snyder-Mackler, were published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy

A third study Doherty points to as evidence that surgeons wrongly place too much emphasis on “time since injury” and too little emphasis on actual function when making return-to-sport decisions appears in Sports Health. That study, conducted by Whiteley, Massey, Gabbett, et al, focused on hamstring injury among professional soccer, rugby, and Australian Rules football players.

Doherty’s opinions about this topic appear in this article published by

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