ACL Injuries and Changes to Brain Structure

ACL injury

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are a common and often debilitating knee injury that can end the career of a professional athlete or prevent us from enjoying the activities of daily living. Often times, ACL injuries require many hours of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. New research from the University of Michigan has also shown that individuals who have undergone ACL reconstruction surgery may have structural changes in their brain.

MRI brain scans of these individuals show a deterioration of a pathway used to connect the brain with muscles. This means that less information is passed between the brain and the muscles. Researchers hypothesize that this is a protective mechanism for our body to try and limit unwanted movement around an injury. However, this means that once the injury has healed through surgery or conservative treatment (i.e. physiotherapy), the ability for the brain to communicate and control the muscles around the area of injury does not return on its own.

What does this mean from a rehabilitation perspective? Treatment approach must not focus purely on restoring muscle strength and range of motion (ROM), but must also include strategies to retrain proper motor patterns and restore joint sense and awareness. These include balance training, dynamic stability exercises, and sport specific movement retraining.

Our physiotherapists at Peak Form Physiotherapy are trained to assess your areas of injury and determine if there are any motor patterning or joint awareness issues that may be impacting your recovery or holding you back from reaching your optimal performance.

If you’ve suffered from an injury or recently had surgery for an injury, call us today and see how our physiotherapists at Peak Form Physiotherapy can help you get back to doing the things you love. We're located in Mississauga, Ontario, in the Port Credit area.

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