Making Optimal Exercise Choices

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When building out HEP programs for patients it’s important to consider a few things that are often glossed over.

One of those things is the simple idea of assigning unilateral exercises for both limbs. This can have a large effect on long term outcomes, and because it’s not a short term thing, most clinicians don’t think about it or see the ramifications.

Think about a multi phase approach to ACL rehab

Phase 1: Acute – focused on affected limb

Phase 2: Sub Acute I – focused on affected limb

Phase 3: Sub Acute II – focused on affected limb & re-introduction of non-affected limb

Phase 4: Chronic – focused on both limbs (and whole body)

Phase 5: Return to Conditioning – focus on full body

Phase 6: Return to Sport – focus on full body

Recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be a long and challenging process, but it’s important to follow a thorough rehabilitation program in order to return to full function and reduce the risk of future injuries. One key aspect of ACL rehab is strengthening both legs, rather than just focusing on one. Here are a few reasons why this is valuable for patients:

  1. Improved balance and stability: The ACL is a key stabilizing ligament in the knee, and when it’s injured, it can cause issues with balance and stability. By working on both legs during rehab, patients can improve their overall balance and stability, which can help reduce the risk of falls and further injuries.
  2. Enhanced muscle symmetry: It’s common for one leg to be weaker than the other after an ACL injury, as the injured leg may have atrophied due to disuse. By strengthening both legs, patients can help improve muscle symmetry and prevent imbalances that can lead to future injuries.
  3. Increased sports performance: For athletes, returning to their sport after an ACL injury requires not only strength in the injured leg, but also the ability to perform at their previous level. By strengthening both legs, athletes can improve their overall performance and reduce the risk of re-injury.
  4. Better overall health: In addition to the physical benefits, working on both legs during ACL rehab can also have mental and emotional benefits. By seeing progress and improvement in both legs, patients can feel more confident and motivated to continue with their rehab. This can also lead to better overall health and well-being.

Using Whel, clinicians can create programs that are sequential, allowing patients to graduate through levels, as the program becomes progressively more challenging. As they graduate through these levels, the clinicians can choose whether certain unilateral exercises are supposed to be performed on are to be performed on just the affected limb, or on both limbs. As you get closer towards the end of care, it’s obviously beneficial to strengthen both limbs.

In summary, it’s important for patients to work on both legs during ACL rehab in order to improve balance and stability, enhance muscle symmetry, increase sports performance, and promote overall health and well-being. By following a comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes exercises for both legs, patients can successfully recover from an ACL injury and return to their normal activities.

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