4 Tips for Returning to Play After an ACL Reconstruction

By Anne Bierman, PT, DPT, SCS for Athletico Physical Therapy

The ACL is a major ligament that helps to stabilize the knee joint. Athletes and recreational enthusiasts of all ages can experience an ACL tear, especially those who participate in high demand sports like soccer, football, volleyball and basketball.4 Tips for Returning to Play After an ACL Reconstruction After surgery, athletes tend to be very anxious to get back to the sport they love. To help them get back to their sport safely with minimal risk of re-injury, Athletico developed an ACL 3P Program. The three “P’s” stand for prevention, progression and performance. The performance aspect of the program emphasizes limb symmetry, proper landing/cutting mechanics and match fitness to minimize the athlete’s risk for re-tear. Learn more about the program by reading Athletico’s “Can ACL Tears Be Prevented?” blog.

Evidence suggests that an athlete may be 30 percent likely to re-tear an ACL, 20 percent on contralateral leg and 10 percent on same leg2. Athletico’s program aims to lower that risk by making sure an athlete has good landing and cutting mechanics when fatigued. Here are the top four things to consider before returning to play after an ACL-Reconstruction.

1)  Timing isn’t everything

A decade ago, most patients were discharged from physical therapy around the three month mark, then released by their physician to return to play at the six month mark. Instead of a time-based criteria, evidence suggests more objective criteria. Athletico’s ACL 3P program includes a cluster of tests – Y balance testing, hop testing, and video analysis of cutting and landing tasks to determine an athlete’s readiness to return to play. Educating patients from the first day of post-op about criteria-based return to play instead of returning right at the six month post-op mark will help them have realistic expectations.

2) Hop testing alone is NOT sufficient

A recent article came out suggesting that hop testing by itself is insufficient to allow an athlete to return to play. If hop testing is the only criteria for return to play, the athlete has been done a disservice. Other objective, sport-specific criteria should also be used.

Similarly, power is one of the last items to come back. Athletico includes single leg, triple hop testing in the “prevention” screen so that we have a baseline on athletes. If that athlete ever has an injury, Athletico clinicians can make sure that athlete not only returns to their baseline, but exceeds it.  Athletes often demonstrate symmetry by the 6six month post-op mark. However, their power often doesn’t return until the 7-8 month post-op mark.  By having a baseline, Athletico clinicians can ensure athletes are not only symmetrical but re-gain power as well.

3) Fatigue

Athletico’s final RTP phase includes a five minute fatigue protocol. Because athletes are most likely to get injured when they are tired, Athletico ACL 3P clinicians want to ensure that landing and cutting mechanics are flawless when fatigued. This is a key differentiator of Athletico’s program.

4) Athletes should not expect to play in a tournament their first weekend back in contact

Patients are often allowed to return to non-contact practice participation before the six month mark, or before they pass all return to play criteria under fatigue. This allows the athlete to start getting some sport-specific muscle memory and fitness. Many parents and athletes think that “getting released” means they can go back to playing a 90-minute soccer match (or even worse – an entire tournament) the first week back.

To ensure safe progression, when “released,” athletes should participate in several weeks of full contact practices before trying just a few minutes in each half of a match.  Physical therapists work hard to mimic sport-specific movements in physical therapy, but reactive decision-making is difficult and best replicated during practice and games. This can fatigue athletes quickly. Educating patients about appropriate progression is key to minimizing their risk for re-injury!

Returning To Play!

If you are interested in Athletico’s ACL 3P Return to Play testing, please email ACL@athletico.com.

If These Walls could Talk-Chicago Bears; The Return of Zach LaVine; Understanding Probiotics

Episode 17.31 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

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Segment One (01:27):  Former Chicago Bear Otis Wilson talks with Steve and Dr. Cole about how the game has changed from 1985 and about his new book, If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears: Stories from the Chicago Bears Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box. Led by stars like Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary, William “Refrigerator” Perry, head coach Mike Ditka, and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, the Chicago Bears in the 1980s were an NFL powerhouse.

As anyone who’s seen “The Super Bowl Shuffle” surely knows, they were also an unforgettable group of characters. Otis Wilson, the Bears starting outside linebacker, was right in the center of the action, and in this book, Wilson provides a closer look at the great moments and personalities that made this era legendary. Readers will meet the players, coaches, and management and share in their moments of triumph and defeat. Be a fly on the wall as Wilson recounts stories from those days in Chicago, including the 1985 Super Bowl-winning season. If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears will make fans a part of the team’s storied history.


Segment Two (12:58): Dr. Cole and Steve discuss the return of Zach LaVine and the rehab process after ACL reconstruction. Fred Hoiberg confirmed that the Bulls will be bringing Zach LaVine (knee) along slowly once he’s cleared for contact.Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls poses for a portrait during the 2017-18 NBA Media Day on September 25, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

“We’ll still take things slow,’’ Hoiberg said. “We won’t throw him out for an hour scrimmage the first day he gets cleared for contact. It will be a gradual process. But he’s doing great, doing everything he’s supposed to do.’’
LaVine is on track to be cleared for contact within the next few weeks, but the Bulls will be taking an extremely cautious approach with his return, so it could be a while until he’s fully up to speed working without restrictions.

Segment Three (19:41): Karen Malkin from Karen Malkin Health Counseling decribes probiotics, why and when they should be used.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

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Good bacteria are naturally found in your body. You can find probiotics in some foods and supplements.

It’s only been since about the mid-1990s that people have wanted to know more about probiotics and their health benefits. Doctors often suggest them to help with digestive problems. And because of their newfound fame, you can find them in everything from yogurt to chocolate.

Analyzing Chicago Bears Tight End Zach Miller’s Knee Injury

By Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush 

November 1, 2017

Will Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller ever play in the NFL again?zach miller knee injury

Miller suffered one of the more gruesome injuries you will see in professional sports while trying to make a touchdown catch. Miller, a longtime NFL veteran, came down awkwardly on his left knee, suffering not only ligament damage, but also a torn popliteal artery that required emergency vascular surgery to repair.

Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph and Dr. Nikhil Verma, both sports medicine orthopedic surgeons at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, joined local Chicago news affiliates to discuss Miller’s injury and what the recovery process will be like. Dr. Bush-Joseph says that the odds of Miller playing football in the NFL again are “very small.”


ABC 7 Chicago

Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph sat down with ABC 7 Chicago’s Christian Farr to analyze Zach Miller’s knee injury.


FOX 32 Chicago

Dr. Nikhil Verma joined Good Day Chicago on Fox 32 Chicago to discuss Chicago Bears Zach Miller’s devastating injury to the knee.

Hear related interview with former Chicago Bear Otis Wilson in Episode 17.30 

Donor Family Shares Story of Hope; Zach Miller Knee Injury; Cheerleader Injuries

Episode 17.30 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

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Segment One (01:30): The Healing Process of Donor Parents Lori and Rob Chana.

Cameron Chana (2)Cameron Chana was a born leader who focused on making an impact in lives of others. He was very involved in volunteer work, his church, and went on mission trips across the world. No matter where he was, he encouraged positivity and spread his caring, upbeat energy.

The Chana family’s world was turned upside down when twenty-two-year old Cameron was killed in a bus accident in 2009. During a time of unimaginable grief, his parents and three siblings honored his wish to be a donor.

Cameron’s legacy of hope and love lives on through the gift of organ and tissue donation. He saved five lives through organ donation and impacted as many as 50 lives through tissue donation. Learn more at AllowSource.

Lori & Rob Chana with Steve and Dr. Cole

Chana family with Cameron on the Left

Cameron’s heart recipient


Segment Two (14.12): Steve and Dr. Cole talk with former Chicago Bear Otis WilsonUSP NFL: CHICAGO BEARS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS S FBN NO CHI USA LA about Zach Millers horrific knee injury in the recent game against the New Orleans Saints. Chicago Bears Zach Miller had emergency surgery last week to repair a torn popliteal artery in his left leg, an injury that has resulted in amputation in some previous instances involving other football players. The 33-year-old dislocated his left knee while trying to catch a touchdown pass, which subsequently damaged the artery.


Segment Three (21:04): Dr. Kathy Weber from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush talks about the prevalence of catastrophic injuries and concussions in cheerleaders. Cheerleading is by far the most perilous sport for female athletes in high school and college, accounting for as much as two-thirds of severe school-sports injuries over the past 25 years, according to a new report. Yet cheerleading remains one of the least-regulated sports, despite more than 95,000 high school girls and 2,000 boys signing up for spirit squads nationwide each year.


kathleen weberDr. Weber’s reputation as a leading sports medicine physician is enhanced by her remarkable activity in the treatment of high-level professional athletes. She serves as the head primary care sports medicine team physician for the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox and the head team physician for the Chicago Force Women’s Football. She also serves as co-head team physician for the DePaul Blue Demons and the physician for the Hubbard Street Dance and the River North Dance Companies. In addition, she is a member of the LPGA Medical Advisory Board. She is on numerous committees including the NBA Team Physicians Executive Committee, NBA Research Committee, MLB Concussion Committee, and MLB Research Committee. Dr. Weber has been involved with the MLB Medical Advisory Board for multiple years and is the first women elected President of the MLB Team Physicians Association.