Neuromuscular training to target deficits associated with second anterior cruciate ligament injury

Stephanie Di Stasi, Gregory D. Myer, Timothy E. Hewett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


SYNOPSIS: Successful return to previous level of activity following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is not guaranteed, and the prevalence of second ACL injury may be as high as 30%. In particular, younger athletes who return to sports activities within the first several months after ACL reconstruction may be at significantly greater risk of a second ACL rupture compared to older, less active individuals. Significant neuromuscular deficits and functional limitations are commonly identified in athletes following ACL reconstruction, and these abnormal movement and neuromuscular control profiles may be both residual of deficits existing prior to the initial injury and exacerbated by the injury and subsequent ACL reconstruction surgery. Following ACL reconstruction, neuromuscular deficits are present in both the surgical and nonsurgical limbs, and accurately predict second-ACL injury risk in adolescent athletes. While second ACL injury in highly active individuals may be predicated on a number of modifiable and nonmodifiable factors, clinicians have the greatest potential to address the modifiable postsurgical risk factors through targeted neuromuscular interventions. This manuscript will (1) summarize the neuromuscular deficits commonly identified at medical discharge to return to sport, (2) provide the evidence underlying second-ACL injury risk factors, (3) propose a method to assess the modifiable deficits related to second-ACL injury risk, and (4) outline a method of intervention to prevent second ACL injury. The program described in this clinical commentary was developed with consideration for the modifiable factors related to second-injury risk, the principles of motor learning, and careful selection of the exercises that may most effectively modify aberrant neuromuscular patterns. Future validation of this evidence-based, late-phase rehabilitation program may be a critical factor in maximizing return-toactivity success and reduction of second-injury risk in highly active individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-792
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • ACL
  • Prevention
  • Return to sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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