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The effect of staged versus usual care physiotherapy on knee function following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
McNeill K, Marmura H, Werstine M, Alcock G, Birmingham T, Willits K, Getgood A, LeBel ME, Litchfield R, Bryant D, Giffin JR
Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 2023 Sep 12:Epub ahead of print
clinical trial
6/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: No; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: No; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

CONTEXT: The long duration and high cost of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) rehabilitation can pose barriers to completing rehabilitation, the latter stages of which progress to demanding sport-specific exercises critical for a safe return to sport. A staged approach shifting in-person physiotherapy sessions to later months of recovery may ensure patients undergo the sport-specific portion of ACLR rehabilitation. DESIGN/OBJECTIVE: To compare postoperative outcomes of knee function in patients participating in a staged ACLR physiotherapy program to patients participating in usual care physiotherapy through a randomized controlled trial. METHODS: One hundred sixty-two patients were randomized to participate in staged (n = 80) or usual care physiotherapy (n = 82) following ACLR and assessed preoperatively and postoperatively at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. The staged group completed the ACLR rehabilitation protocol at home for the first 3 months, followed by usual care in-person sessions. The usual care group completed in-person sessions for their entire rehabilitation. Outcome measures included the Lower Extremity Functional Scale, International Knee Documentation Committee Questionnaire, pain, range of motion, strength, and hop testing. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant between-group differences in measures of knee function at 6 months postoperative. Patients in the usual care group reported significantly higher International Knee Documentation Committee scores at 3 months postoperative (mean difference 5.8; 95% confidence interval 1.3 to 10.4; p = 0.01). CONCLUSION: A staged approach to ACLR rehabilitation does not appear to impede knee function at 6 months postoperative but may result in worse patient reported outcomes at early follow-ups.
Copyright Human Kinetics. Reprinted with permission from Human Kinetics (Champaign, IL).

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