May 2015

Patients cleared 6 months after ACL injury still have functional limitations

In the moment: Sports medicine

By P.K. Daniel

Patients cleared to return to play six months after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction do not appear to have significantly better functional ability than those who are not cleared, according to research from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.

Investigators conducted a cohort study of 98 patients six months after ACL surgery. The patients were separated by readiness to return to sport, as determined by the treating orthopedic surgeon based on clinical impairment measures such as swelling, range of motion, strength, and graft stability. The results revealed no significant differences on functional tests—the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and the Lower Quarter Y Balance Test—between patients who had been cleared and those who had not.

But both groups did average one FMS asymmetry; this finding and the composite FMS scores (12.7 for the cleared group, 12.8 for the noncleared group) are suggestive of elevated lower extremity injury risk based on previously published data for similar populations. The results were epublished in April by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.


Mayer SW, Queen RM, Taylor D, et al. Functional testing differences in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction patients released versus not released to return to sport. Am J Sports Med 2015 Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print]

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