If you’re like most people recovering from ACL injuries, you’re constantly thinking, “how am I doing compared to everyone else?” or “is this normal?”
Now, before we go any further, I need to say… everyone’s ACL recovery is different. Someone who’s way ahead 2 weeks out may have anterior knee pain spike up on them at 14 weeks out. Another person who feels way behind on range of motion at 3 weeks may be starting their return to sport drills far earlier than everyone else.
Mindset is key during the ACL recovery process. And one of the most important things to do regarding mindset is to not get TOO hung up on comparing your recovery with others.
Keep your head down and keep working. Be consistent, be disciplined, and know that you WILL get to where you want to be.
With all that being said, there is some value in understanding where you are on the ACL recovery timeline and how you stack up with others going through the process. The information can be used to drive conversation with your physician, physical therapist, and/or trainer. You might ask questions like, “here’s where I’m seeing I’m behind… how can I improve?”
One way to measure your progress is via a tool called a Patient Reported Outcome Measure (or PROM for short). Rather than measuring your progress via objective measures (like range of motion, strength, etc.) that only your PT can measure, PROMs are used to assess progress using your own feedback on your ability to do functional tasks.
In 2012, a research group took a look at how people score on a specific PROM, the Lower Extremity Functional Score (or LEFS for short) from 0-26 weeks post-op ACL reconstruction. Using the results (pictured below), you can take the LEFS questionnaire and compare your results to the chart to get a better feel for where you stand.
Step 2: Compare to the chart below
(Source: Cupido C, Peterson D, Sutherland MS, Ayeni O, Stratford PW. Tracking patient outcomes after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Physiother Can. 2014 Spring;66(2):199-205.)
As an example, 12 weeks out one of our clients, a 39 year old CrossFit athlete named Josh, scored a 75/80 on the LEFS. Comparing this result to the chart, he was nearly 20% ahead of the average ACL recovery.
His PT was extremely impressed by his progress, and offered the following thoughts:
“By combining my physical therapy care with Accelerate ACL in-home protocols, my patient experienced an increase in ROM, increase in strength, and an overall decrease in pain. Three months after surgery, his daily functional activity scores were 94%. He has set a new standard for our ACL recoveries.”
Remember, this is just one example. Other athletes may find that they fall a bit below the curve. That’s ok – keep putting the work in and you will get there. Ultimately, we hope you can use this information to drive conversation with your physician, PT, or trainer about where you stand in the ACL recovery process. As is this case with most things in life, try not to get “too high” or “too low” about what the score tells you.
No matter what, your goal for tomorrow is the same. Be consistent, stay disciplined in your approach and work hard.
Reading to the end of this article tells us that you are highly motivated to optimize the ACL recovery process. As a reward, you have gained free access to this report on how the Accelerate ACL Proven Process is specifically designed to overcome the 7 most significant challenges in ACL recovery. Just click download to claim yours.