Effect of COVID-19 Social Isolation Policies on Rehabilitation After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
journal contributionposted on 2021-11-08, 06:06 authored by Kate WebsterKate Webster, Haydn KlemmHaydn Klemm, Brian Meldan Devitt, TS Whitehead, Julian FellerJulian Feller
Background: The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a profound impact on health care in Australia. To contain the spread of the virus, strict physical distancing and social isolation policies were implemented from late March 2020. This presented a situation in which patients recovering from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction had limited access to face-to-face supervised rehabilitation and rehabilitation facilities. Purpose: To explore the impact of social distancing and isolation policies on postoperative rehabilitation in patients after ACL reconstruction. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Patients who had ACL reconstruction from October 2019 until the end of March 2020 (6 months before the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions) completed an online self-report questionnaire containing 5 sections: utilization of health care professionals for rehabilitation, frequency of rehabilitation, patient concerns and attitude, perceived impact on recovery, and changes to employment status. We compared the responses of patients who had surgery in 2019 with those who had surgery in 2020. Statistical analysis was performed using frequency statistics and central tendency measures. Results: A total of 185 patients (97 men, 88 women) completed the survey, for a 73% response rate. Patients had a mean age of 28 years (range, 13-57 years) and had undergone surgery a mean 4.5 months prior (range, 1.5-8 months). Most patients (80%) maintained face-to-face rehabilitation, predominantly with a physical therapist, regardless of whether their surgery took place in 2019 or 2020; rehabilitation with active, supervised exercises was most common. Almost all patients were performing strengthening exercises (164/185), and most were performing range-of-motion (139/185) and aerobic (123/185) activities at their homes. Patients were minimally concerned about access to supervised rehabilitation and knee reinjury, but they were concerned about access to equipment. Because of COVID-19, 30% were working from home; 17% were on reduced hours and 8% on increased hours; 15% were on leave or unemployed; and 30% reported no change in employment status. Conclusion: Patients who had undergone ACL reconstruction just before or during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic were able to maintain in-person contact with their health professionals during rehabilitation, and they had a positive outlook and managed well despite the restrictions.