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The effectiveness of preoperative rehabilitation programmes on postoperative outcomes following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction: A systematic review

journal contribution
posted on 2020-11-10, 02:21 authored by HM Carter, C Littlewood, Kate WebsterKate Webster, BE Smith
© 2020 The Author(s). Background: To explore the effectiveness of preoperative rehabilitation programmes (PreHab) on postoperative physical and psychological outcomes following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). Method: A systematic search was conducted from inception to November 2019. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published in English were included. Risk of bias was assessed using Version 2 of the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool, and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment system was used to evaluate the quality of evidence. Results: The search identified 739 potentially eligible studies, three met the inclusion criteria. All included RCTs scored 'high' risk of bias. PreHab in all three RCTs was an exercise programme, each varied in content (strength, control, balance and perturbation training), frequency (10 to 24 sessions) and length (3.1-to 6-weeks). Statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) were reported for quadriceps strength (one RCT) and single leg hop scores (two RCTs) in favour of PreHab three months after ACLR, compared to no PreHab. One RCT reported no statistically significant between-group difference for pain and function. No RCT evaluated post-operative psychological outcomes. Conclusion: Very low quality evidence suggests that PreHab that includes muscular strength, balance and perturbation training offers a small benefit to quadriceps strength and single leg hop scores three months after ACLR compared with no PreHab. There is no consensus on the optimum PreHab programme content, frequency and length. Further research is needed to develop PreHab programmes that consider psychosocial factors and the measurement of relevant post-operative outcomes such as psychological readiness and return to sport. Trial registration: PROSPERO trial registration number. CRD42020162754.


HC is supported by an Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Internship funded by Health Education England/National Institute for Health Research (HEE/NIHR) working in the East Midlands. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, HEE or the Department of Health.

Health Education England/National Institute for Health Research (HEE/NIHR) working in the East Midlands


Publication Date



BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders





Article Number





BioMed Central



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