Pool Protocols for ACL Rehabilitation
An ACL injury is defined as stretching, tearing or loosening of the ligament. An injury of this magnitude often results in surgery, which takes 6 months or more to recuperate from. Whether the injury requires surgery or not, physical therapy and rehabilitation play a vital role in promoting the proper healing. Physical therapy helps retain, strengthen and retrain a patient’s muscles and muscle memory while protecting the ligament. This muscle retention and retraining allows for patients to return to daily activities and sports faster, and with less of a risk of injury.
Olmer Cruz, an aquatic therapist at Peak Performance in Lynbrook, NY works with athletes who have suffered ACL injuries. Olmer’s goal is to return his athletes to the playing field quickly and safely. In order to do this, Cruz utilizes both aquatic and land therapy. Combining water’s buoyancy and low impact levels in the HydroWorx 500 Series pool re-train his athletes, perfect muscle memory, advance range of motion and reduce inflammation. Using the instant feedback from the HydroWorx pool, Cruz also works to adjust an athlete’s gait as needed to prevent future injuries while focusing on change of direction and stability maintenance on the core.
According to Cruz, athletes who only use land rehabilitation seem to be a step behind those who are able to utilize aquatic therapy. One of the main reasons for this is that when training in the safe environment of a HydroWorx pool athletes are able to begin more advanced exercises much sooner than they would on land. Here is a timeline of what aquatic rehabilitation for an ACL might entail:
- 4-6 weeks: walking, balancing
- 6-8 weeks: jogging
- 8-10 weeks: frontal plains, shuffling from side to side
- 10-12 weeks: sports training, jumping
- 12 weeks: plyometrics, jumping, sprinting, agility
Today, Peak Performance is working to train more and more of their therapists in both aquatic and land therapies. Watch Cruz’s full review on aquatic therapy solutions for ACL rehabilitation, or follow along as he leads one of his athletes through an aquatic therapy session at 12 weeks post-op.