Context: Return to activity(RTA) assessments are commonly administered following ACL-Reconstruction(ACLR) to manage post-operative progressions back to activity. To date, there is little knowledge on the clinical utility of these assessments to predict patient outcomes such as secondary ACL injury once returned to activity.

Objective: To identify what measures of patient function at 6-months post-ACLR best predict return to activity and second ACL injury at a minimum of 2-years following ACLR.

Design: Prospective-cohort

Setting: Laboratory

Patients: A total of 234 patients with primary, unilateral ACLR completed functional assessments at approximately 6-months post-ACLR. A total of 192(82%) completed follow-up ≥ 2-years post ACLR.

Main Outcome Measures: Six-month functional assessments consisted of patient reported outcomes, isokinetic knee flexor and extensor strength, and single-leg hopping. The ability to return to activity and secondary ACL injury were collected at a minimum of two-years following ACLR.

Results: In patients who did RTA(n=155), a total of 44(28%) individuals had a subsequent ACL injury; graft n=24(15.5%), contralateral ACL n=20(13%). A greater proportion of females had a secondary injury to the contralateral ACL(15/24, 63%) whereas a greater proportion of males reinjured the ipsilateral ACL graft(15/20, 75%, P=.017) Greater knee extension symmetry at 6-months increased the probability of reinjury(B=.016, P=.048). In patients who RTA before 8-months, every 1% increase in quadriceps strength symmetry at 6-months increased the risk of reinjury by 2.1%(B=.021, P=.05). In patients who RTA after 8-months, every month that RTA was delayed reduced the risk of reinjury by 28.4%(B=−284, P=.042).

Conclusions: Patients with more symmetric quadriceps strength at 6-months post ACLR were more likely to experience another ACL rupture, especially in those who returned to sport earlier than 8-months after the index surgery. Clinicians should be cognizant that returning high functioning patients to activity earlier than 8-months post-ACLR may place them at an increased risk for reinjury.

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