12 Reporting of acute programme variables in rehabilitation strength training for anterior cruciate ligament injury: a systematic review

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Abstract

Strength training is a critical component of rehabilitation for adults with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Programming of acute programme variables (APV; e.g. sets, repetitions (reps), load, tempo, rest period (RP)) in rehabilitation strength training (RST) for ACL injury will impact physiological responses to training and resolution of impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, as well as influence short-/long-term outcomes. Evidence-based practice (EBP) in RST for ACL injury depends on whether APVs are adequately reported in the scientific literature for readers to replicate interventions in day-to-day clinical practice. The purpose of this systematic review (SR) was to determine the extent to which RST APVs are reported in studies for adults with ACL injury. This SR was part of a wider SR registered on PROSPERO; PRISMA guidelines were followed. Medical (PubMed, MEDLINE), allied health (PEDro, CINHAL), and sports (Sport DISCUS) databases were comprehensively searched using pre-defined keywords. Descriptive, observational, and experimental studies that used RST with an external mass of known magnitude for adults with ACL injury were included from 2006–2016. Case-studies, elastic/hydraulic/pneumatic resistance studies, mixed-modality studies, and paediatric studies were excluded. A study needed to report an APV for ≥51% of all its RST exercises to be counted and included for that specific APV in this SR. Proportions (%) were then calculated: (number of studies with a specific APV reported total number of studies in SR) × 100. A total of 298 records were identified. After removal of duplicates, 139 records were screened and 19 were eligible for full-text review (FTR). After FTR, 13 studies were included for final quantitative synthesis. Of the 13 studies, 0%–85% reported specific APVs (e.g. sets 85%, reps 77%, load 39%, tempo 8%, RP 31%). Most studies reported sets and reps. Less than 40% of studies reported load, tempo, and RP, which threatens large variation in application of RST due to readers’ attempts to interpolate omitted APVs Translation and replication of recent ACL RST studies to clinical practice is limited because of inadequate reporting of APVs Future ACL RST studies should present detailed reports of APVs to facilitate better transfer of research to practice.

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