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Understanding ACL (Knee) Rehabilitation
Dr. Brian Cole

Dr. Brian J. Cole, sports medicine specialist at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, was recently interviewed by Comcast SportsNet to discuss ACL (knee) injuries. Dr. Cole has seen a high increase in the number of knee injuries over the years and estimates that over 200,000 people tear their ACL annually. When asked about rehabilitation, he highlighted three (3) phases to the rehabilitation process for ACL injuries.

Phase 1

  • Typically occurs within the first six (6) weeks
  • Focus is primarily on regaining quadricep control, restoring motion, managing pain appropriately, and getting the swelling down

Phase 2

  • Spreads away from the knee: Once the knee gets restored, then we start working peripherally away from the knee

Phase 3

  • The athlete gets involved with sports-specific activities

So it is realistic that a basketball player such as Derrick Rose could run within 10 weeks and begin basketball-related activities within four (4) months. Dr. Cole notes that one variable plays a large part in recovering from a knee injury; the brain. Physicians have learned that the psychology of getting back and the fear of re-injury can be just as overwhelming to some athletes and inhibit them from returning to pre-injury level. When we look at the statistics, it is important to note that less than 50% of the time, an athlete's inability to return to their pre-injury level is unrelated to the knee itself but rather other factors.

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