Did you know? “Prehabilitation” is just as important as rehabilitation after an ACL tear?
If you’re an athlete, you’re at a greater risk for knee injury than someone who doesn’t participate regularly in a sport. One of the most common sports injuries, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, can happen suddenly. Twist your knee sharply or extend it beyond its normal range during play, and you may hear the telltale “pop.”
While many sports injuries can be treated non-surgically, some, like an ACL tear, may benefit from surgery. The sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, and certified athletic trainers at the Emory Sports Medicine Center have designed the ACL Rehabilitation Program to help you prepare for ACL surgery, enjoy a successful post-op recovery, and ease back into play.
When an ACL tear requires surgery, pre-surgery care, or “prehabilitation,” will go a long way toward ensuring a successful post-operative recovery.
The 4 Key Goals of the Prehabilitation are to:
- reduce swelling
- retain range of motion
- retain muscle size and strength
- maintain cardiovascular fitness
After an ACL injury, your first step is to get the swelling down. During the initial 48 hours, be sure to ice your injured knee for 15–20 minutes at least two to three times a day. While you’re icing your knee, keep your knee elevated above your heart as much as possible. To decrease inflammation, provide compression for your injured knee with a knee sleeve or ACE bandage.
In addition to reducing swelling with ice, elevation, and compression, you’ll want to retain your range of motion and muscle size and strength and maintain your cardiovascular fitness. To do this, you’ll need to keep exercising. Emory’s physical therapists and certified athletic trainers will work with you to create an individualized exercise plan that will help you prehabilitate your knee without reinjuring it.
Check out Emory’s ACL Rehabilitation Program website and watch videos that will take you step by step through exercises to do during prehabilitation, surgical recovery, and when you’re returning to play.
Have you had an ACL injury that required surgery? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.