Physical Therapy for Prehab before ACL reconstruction?

“Should I really go
to physical therapy for ‘prehab’ before I have my ACL reconstruction?”
This is a very common question asked by athletes who have
recently suffered an ACL tear, and the answer is YES.  The single largest mistake people make is neglecting
the importance of regaining functional knee range of motion, maximizing
strength/coordination, and reducing swelling as much as possible BEFORE going
in for surgery.  The pain and swelling caused
by inflammation after an ACL tear can produce reflex weakening of the muscles
surrounding the injured area. Neuromuscular control needs to be restored prior
to surgery in order to facilitate normal muscle recovery post-operatively. The
stronger the muscles are going in, the faster they will recover afterwards.  Doing nothing for even the couple weeks
leading up to surgery can make your post-operative recovery much more
In addition to the physical benefits of pre-operative therapy,
establishing a relationship with your Physical Therapist beforehand will
provide a huge mental boost and allow you to become prepared for surgery and
what is to be expected afterwards.  An
ACL tear is a HUGE deal to an athlete and is a very difficult injury to come
back from mentally.  Going into surgery
with a strong sense of mental preparedness enables the athlete to be both
confident and realistic about the rehab process and goal setting.  Athletes are often nervous about surgery and
will likely forget to ask the surgeon the right questions.  Working with your physical therapist before
allows the procedure to be explained thoroughly and gives the athlete/therapist
opportunity to discuss their rehabilitation program in detail, so that they
fully understand what is expected of them.  
At OSR Physical Therapy, we specialize in the treatment of
athletic injuries and have had the opportunity to return many local athletes to
their sport in PRIME CONDITION following ACL Reconstruction.  We are proud to be the choice provider for
many of our local high school athletes and are confident in our staff and
state-of-the art equipment.  Please do
not hesitate to contact us to answer any questions you may have about ACL
Reconstruction and rehabilitation.  
Here are some related links of interest:

This article was created by Josh Rolfes, DPT. Josh works out of our Eden Prairie office.