Residual deficits in athletic performance are common despite rehabilitation guidelines following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction including criterion-based progressions to protect healing structures, ensure safe restoration of fundamental physical capacities, and guide appropriate return to sports activities. A synthesis of the available literature is warranted to examine the physical readiness to re-perform of athletic populations in the later stages of rehabilitation in comparison to healthy controls.
To determine the level of strength, power, rate of force development, and reactive strength in adult males who are more than six months following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
A systematic review of the literature was undertaken using the Medline, CINAHL and SPORTDiscus databases and the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Studies including males only and assessed strength, power, rate of force development and reactive strength comparing performance to healthy controls were included. A meta-analysis was also performed to compute standardized mean differences (SMD ± 95% confidence intervals), calculated using Hedge’s g, and examine the effect of ACLR on these fundamental physical capacities.
2023 articles were identified, of which 14 articles with similar level of evidence and methodological quality met the inclusion criteria. The most commonly investigated and impaired physical capacity was quadriceps (g = -0.89, 95% CI [-1.33,-0.44]) and hamstring strength (g = -0.44, 95% CI [-0.78,-0.10]). Only one study investigated rate of force development and none measuring reactive strength met our eligibility criteria.
Pooled data showed moderate evidence indicating large and small negative deficits on knee peak extension and flexion, respectively, in male adults at more than 6 months post anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. The magnitude of these differences are influenced by graft type and can be mitigated by targeted rehabilitation programs. Insufficient evidence is available in male adults following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction to examine rate of force development and reactive strength.
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