Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Rehab Studied

Compared to standard rehabilitation, eccentric exercise doubles volume of thigh muscle structure

THURSDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- In patients who undergo reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament, a progressive eccentric resistance training program started three weeks after surgery is superior to a standard rehabilitation protocol in strengthening the quadriceps and gluteus maximus, according to a report published in the March issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

J. Parry Gerber, P.T., Ph.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues randomly assigned 40 patients to receive either 12 weeks of eccentric exercises or a standard rehabilitation protocol.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the eccentric exercise group had a twofold greater volume and peak cross-sectional area of the quadriceps and gluteus maximus -- in both the involved and the uninvolved thighs -- than the standard rehabilitation protocol group.

"The gradual and progressive exposure to negative work allowed the patients in this study to safely increase the intensity of eccentric training and greatly enhance structural changes of the quadriceps and gluteus maximus," the authors conclude. "Because the forces produced across a muscle during negative work are of the greatest magnitude of any muscle action, an eccentric intervention may be ideal for mitigating the persistent muscle impairments commonly observed after reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament."

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