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Research aims to make ACL rehabilitation cheaper and more effective

June 17, 2020

Half of amateur and junior athletes who suffer an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury never return to competitive sport.

Even those who do get back to their favourite pastime will spend an estimated $30,000 on treatments over their lifespan following the injury.

New research being conducted at Bond University aims to change that by making the rehabilitation from ACL injuries more effective and cheaper.

“We want to figure out how to remove the barriers so that participants can get healthy and back doing what they love," said Bond University PhD candidate Adam Walker.

“If you are under the age of 18, your risk of re-injuring your knee once you’ve done an ACL is one in three.

“Elite athletes have access to all the latest technology, facilities and services, but that isn’t an option for the general public."

ACL injuries don't just keep people out of sport. They also often lead to long-term knee impairments, reduced quality of life, financial burden, and early-onset osteoarthritis.

Worryingly, ACL injuries in children have increased by over 150 per cent in the last decade.

“Only about half of people who suffer an ACL injury ever return to competitive sport,” Mr Walker said.

“Only 30 per cent of people do rehab beyond five months and the research shows that is nowhere near enough.

“We have seen that in the female sport space, particularly in the youth, the re-injury rate is way too high."

ACL surgery and rehabilitation is expensive and Mr Walker said patients' likelihood of developing knee osteoarthritis was 'massive'.

"A lot of people may go on to get a knee replacement as well, but complete rehabilitation can reduce the risk.”

Had an ACL reconstruction? Help improve outcomes by sharing your experience of rehabilitation by completing a 10 minute survey: