How do i find a good ACL physical therapist?

Important questions to ask when choosing a physical therapist.

A lot of people have no idea where to start when it comes to looking for the best physical therapist for an ACL recovery. Finding the right ACL physical therapist is pivotal for optimal recovery! 

How do i find a good ACL physical therapist?

Recovering from an ACL tear is complex and blindly following a protocol won’t cut it. I think not every physical therapist is qualified to treat ACLs from start to finish. 

We believe everyone recovering from ACL injury should find an ACL therapist that understands the entire proces. It can be hard to know and to find what you need for ACL recovery.

Here are some good questions for all ACL patients to ask when finding an ACL professional suitable for quality ACL rehab. 

ALL ACL PATIENT SHOULD ASK QUESTIONS SUCH AS:

ASK THE SURGEON WHAT PHYSICAL THERAPIST OR CLINIC DO YOU RECOMMEND?

Is there a physical therapist or clinic you recommend working with?
Are there any places i should avoid?

ASK PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

> WHAT IS THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH ACLs?

How many years of experience does the physical therapist have with ACL rehabilitation?

> HOW MANY ATHLETE’S WITH ACL SURGERY DO YOU TREAT A YEAR?

PT’s who treat 5+ ACL’s a year is a good mark to aim for.

> ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH MY SURGEON’S POST OP PROTOCOL?

It’s good to know if the PT has a relationship with the surgeon or is willing to establish one.

> WHAT CRITERIA DO YOU USE FOR RETURN TO SPORT?

Return to running, sports activities, and full return to sport.

> WHAT KIND OF TESTING DO THEY DO?

Do they use a test battery or hop-tests? Successful completion of standard 4 hop tests at 90% distance.

Big thanks to: theaclclub.com

> HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO GET BACK TO SPORT?

Any PT saying less than 9 months is not following current evidence. 9 months is the earliest someone should go back.

> HOW DO YOU MEASURE QUAD STRENGHT OR FORCE CAUGE?

Words to look for: Hand Held Dynamometer or an Isokinetic Dynamometer (Biodex). > 90% quad strength is key.

> WHAT ARE THEIR TREATMENT PHILOSOPHIES?

What are their goals early on in rehab?

> WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH HAVE THEY READ?

Up-to-date knowledge of the latest research is important. When did they take courses or attend a conference on the ACL?

> WHAT TOOLS DO YOU HAVE ACCESS TO FOR REHAB?

Some helpful items are blood flow restriction cuffs, electric stimulation, barbells, kettlebells.

> WILL SEE MORE THAN ONE PROVIDER?

Personal preference to see the same PT (or to work with a few different ones) within the practice you trust.

> WHAT ARE YOU KEYS FOR PATIENTS DURING THIS RECOVERY?

This will vary but it can give you good insight into recovery. Recommendations can include being around team, journaling, education, nutrition, sports psychologist, mental performance coach, athletic trainer.

> DO THEY UNDERSTAND HOW TO PROPERLY CLEAR AN ATHLETE FOR SPORTS?

Without looking at research, therapist are blindly guessing when you’re safe to return to sports. If a ACL  physical therapist doesn’t know these simple things maybe begin looking elsewhere.