• Ashley Magsanide, PT, DPT, CSCS


The role of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is to provide stability and proprioceptive feedback to the knee. The most common way that an ACL is ruptured is from a traumatic force being applied in a twisting moment. These can be classified as either contact or non-contact ACL tears. Contact ACL tears occur with a physical blow to the lateral side of the knee, often seen on the football field or in a car accident. Non-contact ACL tears are seen in sidestepping, pivoting or landing from a jump incorrectly.

Approximately 200,000 ACLs are torn in the United States each year, but only about 100,000 result in ACL reconstructions. A 2009 study looked at more than 400 patients who were under the age of 18 at the time of his (or her) first ACL reconstruction, and who participated in either basketball or soccer. Eighty-seven percent of both males and females returned to basketball, where 93 percent of females and 80 percent of males returned to soccer. Overall, the mean time to return to full participation was just over 5 months, and 20 percent went on to compete in collegiate athletics.

ACL reconstruction is the surgery performed to rebuild the ruptured ligament. The tissue used to replace a damaged ACL can come from the patient's own body or from a donor. An autograph takes tissue from the patient's own body, usually either hamstring tendon or patellar tendon. An allograft takes tissue from a donor.

Post ACL reconstruction, patients may need to war a knee brace and/or use crutches for the first 1 to 4 weeks. Physical therapy will help patients regain motion and strength in the knee and can last anywhere between 2 to 6 months, depending on patients goals. The main goals with rehabilitation after an ACL reconstruction are: restoration of join anatomy, increase static and dynamic stability, maintain aerobic conditioning and physiological well being, and return to work and sport.

The ZK-7 Zamst brace may be appropriate for some patients while they return to sport post-ACL reconstruction. Discuss this with your physician to see if this brace is appropriate for you.


1. Csintalan RP, Inacio MC, Funahashi TT. Incidence Rate of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstructions. Perm J. Summer 2008: 12(3).

2. Cross MJ. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Treatment and Rehabilitation. Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, February 1998.

3. National Institutes of Health. ACL Reconstruction. Available at: http://www.nlm.mih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007208.htm. Accessed on February 6, 2012.

4. Pearson L. Gettin on the Ball, Post-ACL Surgery. AAOS. February 2009.

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