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The Warrior Athlete Part 2—Return to Duty in the US Military

Advancing ACL Rehabilitation in the Tactical Athlete

Peebles, Liam A. BA*; O’Brien, Luke T. PT, MPhty (Sports), SCS; Dekker, Travis J. MD*,‡; Kennedy, Mitchell I. BS*; Akamefula, Ramesses BS*; Provencher, Matthew T. MD, MC, USNR*,‡

Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review: September 2019 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p e12–e24
doi: 10.1097/JSA.0000000000000237
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Rehabilitation following an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is a crucial component of the healing and recovery process and full return to duty/play in the tactical modern-day warfighter. The burden of anterior cruciate ligament injuries and subsequent loss of readiness in these military warfighters highlights one of the most significant gaps in musculoskeletal injury care today. Emphasis must be placed on early weight-bearing and range of motion (ROM), namely in this athlete population, to best facilitate a timely care and recovery process. Preoperative rehabilitation should commence immediately following the diagnosis of an anterior cruciate ligament tear, because one of the best predictors of postoperative ROM is preoperative ROM. Recent advances in rehabilitation technology such as Alter-G treadmills, inertial measurement units, and blood flow restriction therapy systems, have demonstrated success in the early rehabilitation of tactical athletes. Alter-G treadmills allow for early weight-bearing with reduced impact and progression in ROM following operative management, while inertial measurement units have been applied to tailoring rehabilitation protocols specifically to an athlete’s unique functional deficits. When used in conjunction with a fined tune rehabilitation protocol, implemented by a well versed clinical team, these treatment techniques can greatly expedite the return to duty process and limit long-term complications.

*Steadman Philippon Research Institute

The Steadman Clinic

Howard Head Sports Medicine, Vail, CO

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Matthew T. Provencher, MD, MC, USNR, The Steadman Clinic, 181 West Meadow Drive, Suite 400, Vail, CO 81657.

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