Craig Schultz is a physical therapist at Timpanogos Regional Hospital. Having been a therapist for 25 years, he has seen countless ACL surgeries and understands just how progressive fixing a torn ACL has become.
The surgeon usually reconstructs the ACL by using either the middle third of the the patients patellar tendon or from their hamstring. 25 years ago, recovery time after surgery was at least a year. Now, patients can return to full athletic participation in nine months with the new surgery techniques.
“The surgery technique has improved considerably on the way how they are able to anchor that graft into the bone. It’s very tough and solid from the get go, so they have people right away, the next day after their surgery, that are in therapy,” said Shultz.
McKenzie Gregory, a former collegiate athlete, recently tore her ACL while playing indoor soccer. While recovery from her surgery has been difficult, she understands that her therapy is worth it.
“If I didn’t go to physical therapy, I am pretty sure it would bend like nothing. Just going there has helped so much. It is amazing,” said Gregory.
Rehab methods have also improved. Instead of immobilizing the knee for a few weeks after surgery, patients are in therapy as soon as possible to start working on their range of motion.
Although Schultz pointed out that even elite athletes in the best shape of their lives can tear an ACL, there aren’t really any specific exercises to prevent an ACL tear. All you can hope for is to be well conditioned and then you are less vulnerable to injury.