Psychological Aspects of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

Research paper by Clare L. Ardern, Joanna Kvist, Kate E. Webster

Indexed on: 04 Oct '16Published on: 17 Oct '15Published in: Operative Techniques in Sports Medicine


Impairment-based evaluation has, until recently, been the mainstay of orthopaedic research in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. However, participation-based outcomes, in particular returning to sport, have lately garnered increased research attention. This is important because returning to sport is typically a main concern of injured athletes. Recent metaanalyses have demonstrated that the return to sport rate after ACL reconstruction is disappointingly low, and that a range of contextual factors including age, sex, sport participation level, and psychological factors may affect the return to sport rate. Moderate to large effect sizes have been demonstrated for greater psychological readiness to return to sport, and lower fear of reinjury favoring returning to the preinjury level sport after ACL reconstruction. Understanding the relationship between psychological factors and returning to sport is essential in light of the fact that most athletes recover good physical function after surgery, and many athletes with good knee function do not return to sport. Psychological factors are potentially modifiable with appropriate intervention, yet these factors are not systematically addressed in routine postoperative rehabilitation. This review summarizes the recent evidence for the relationship between psychological factors and ACL injury, including recovery from injury and returning to sport.

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