Return to Sport After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in the Skeletally Immature Athlete

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Abstract

Objective:

Determine the percentage of skeletally immature athletes returning to sports after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and reconstruction.

Design:

Retrospective case series.

Setting:

Boston Children's Hospital Division of Sports Medicine.

Patients:

Eligible participants were identified by chart review. Males and females aged ≤14 year old who were greater than 2 years after ACL reconstruction surgery seen between January 2001 and May 2009. A total of 250 patients completed the questionnaires.

Assessment of Risk Factors:

Age, sex, mechanism, and sport played at time of ACL injury.

Main Outcome Measures:

Response to the survey was 75% (250 of 333) which was analyzed using descriptive statistics to provide a summary of the study cohort. Kaplan–Meier survivorship analysis was applied to determine time to return to sports participation after ACL reconstruction with Greenwood formula used to calculate 95% confidence intervals around the estimated percentage returning at 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24-month follow-up.

Results:

After undergoing ACL reconstruction, 96% of skeletally immature athletes are able to return to sports at the same skill level. Median time to return to sports was 9 months postoperative, with most athletes returning to sports (85%) by 12 months.

Conclusions:

After undergoing ACL reconstruction, most child athletes are able to return to sports and 50% of these athletes return within 9 months after surgery.

Clinical Relevance:

After undergoing ACL reconstruction, 96% of athletes ≤14 year old are able to return to sports at the same skill level. Median time to return to sports was 9 months postoperative, with most athletes returning to sports (85%) by 12 months. In our study, patients cited physical limitation, loss of interest in sport, and fear of reinjury as reasons for not returning to previous level of sport. Return to sport may be improved by additional research into sports-specific training and rehabilitation in this cohort.

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