ACL surgery physical therapy – stages of the rehabilitation

ACL surgery physical therapy is extremely important for all those patients who undergo a surgical treatment for anterior joint ligament damage or tear. This is mainly because of the fact that a surgery is normally prescribed in such situations when the knee cartilage is badly damaged or when the knee loses functionality due to the cruciate ligament tear. It is common that an ACL surgery physical therapy program shall be suggested after about a week of the completion of the surgery. This ACL surgery physical therapy does not need to be conducted as an in-patient and in most cases the patients are discharged. However, it is extremely important that you continue to attend the ACL surgery physical therapy sessions without missing any so that your rehabilitation is easier and smoother. This is also important if you want to regain the use of your knees and legs in a normal manner. Such an injury can take its toll on the ligaments and muscles and the stress caused can also have damaged partially the surrounding ligaments. It is advised therefore that proper care be taken to follow all that the physiotherapist recommends and not try and get more adventurous or foolhardy about movements. While each physician has his or her own specific inputs to provide based on the specific patient case at hand, there are various guidelines that have been laid down for ACL physical therapy. These guidelines are generally split into various stages of rehabilitation – the first month, the second month and return to normalcy.

The first month
The early rehabilitation stage of the ACL surgery physical therapy is focused on reducing the pain and swelling that exists post the surgery. During this phase, a range of movements are covered. Muscle strengthening is also what is important at this stage of ACL surgery physical therapy. Bending the knee, exercises performed under water, mini ball squats, staircase machines and balancing is practiced during this stage of the ACL surgery physical therapy program.

The second month
The second phase of the ACL surgery physical therapy treatment is called the controlled ambulation phase. Single leg mini squats, calf muscle strengthening, step ups and step downs, single leg bridges and bending the knee to a 130 degree level are practiced. This phase also includes balance training like gait training on the treadmill and standing on soft surfaces. Since this stage is extremely important, patients can continue to do some exercises on their own.

Return to normalcy
The last phase is called the moderate protection phase and later the light activity phase. During this phase the full range of movements of the knee is exercised. Weight training is also introduced and key exercises at this stage are lunges and stepping exercises. Before concluding the session, some physicians suggest isokinetic testing. Towards the end of the ACL surgery physical therapy, a knee brace is sometimes added.