Are Elite Collegiate Female Athletes PRIME for a Safe Return to Sport after ACLR? An Investigation of Physical Readiness and Integrated Movement Efficiency (PRIME).
Chaaban CR, Hearn D, Goerger B, Padua DA.
Background: Elite female athletes who successfully return to sport after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) represent a high-risk group for secondary injury. Little is known about how the functional profile of these athletes compares to their teammates who have not sustained ACL injuries.
Purpose: To compare elite collegiate female athletes who were able to successfully return to sport for at least one season following ACLR to their teammates with no history of ACLR with regard to self-reported knee function, kinetics, and kinematics during a double limb jump-landing task.
Study Design: Cross-Sectional Study
Level of Evidence: Level 3
Methods: Eighty-two female collegiate athletes (17 ACLR, 65 control) completed the knee-specific SANE (single assessment numeric evaluation) and three trials of a jump-landing task prior to their competitive season. vGRF data on each limb and the LESS (Landing Error Scoring System) score were collected from the jump-landing task. Knee-SANE, vGRF data, and LESS scores were compared between groups. All athletes were monitored for the duration of their competitive season for ACL injuries.
Results: Athletes after ACLR reported worse knee-specific function. Based on vGRF data, they unloaded their involved limb during the impact phase of the landing, and they were more asymmetrical between limbs during the propulsion phase as compared to the control group. The ACLR group, however, had lower LESS scores, indicative of better movement quality. No athletes in either group sustained ACL injuries during the following season.
Conclusion: Despite reporting worse knee function and demonstrating worse kinetics, the ACLR group demonstrated better movement quality relative to their uninjured teammates. This functional profile may correspond to short-term successful outcomes following ACLR, given that no athletes sustained ACL injuries in the competition season following assessment.