ACL Protocol for First Hydrotherapy Session Post-Op
The experts at Michael Johnson Performance (MJP) rely on aquatic therapy for almost all of their clients who are undergoing rehabilitation. Director of Rehab, Lorenzo Vite, feels that practically any injury is a candidate for aquatic therapy during their rehab. At MJP, they not only use hydrotherapy for the rehabilitation it offers, but also as a bridge to moving to land-based activities. Lorenzo notes that athletes are less hesitant to do activities for the first time on land if they have already been doing them in the pool. The pool work gives them confidence to rely on their injured body part to do what it is supposed to do.
In this case study from MJP, Lorenzo introduces a 15-year old football player to the HydroWorx 500 Series pool for the first time. The football player is 5 weeks post-op on a recurrent ACL injury. This initial session gets the athlete acclimated to the features of the pool as Lorenzo focuses on his gait pattern to correct any errors. Using the underwater cameras, the athlete was able to immediately identify and make slight changes in his gait to ensure proper healing and muscle usage.
He began with some initial stretching of the knee in the warm water and then moved right into treadmill work. Lorenzo was sure to keep the pace at a walk, despite the athlete’s willingness to do more based on his lack of pain in the water. On the treadmill, with an intense focus on gait, the athlete walked forward, backward and did a side shuffle, maintaining consistent and accurate heel-toe strike. He also had the athlete work on lateral and front step-ups.
Based on the doctor’s progression timetable and the athlete’s comfortability, the physical therapist will appropriately increase resistance level using resistance jets, speed of the treadmill and types of activities in the water until the athlete is able to move to land based activities.
Watch the case history of the patient and his first session in the HydroWorx pool in the videos below:
To learn more about ACL rehabilitation using aquatic therapy, download our “ACL Recovery” tip sheet here>>