Dr. Burnham and colleagues recently published a research study on a test that may be useful in determining when patients can return to sports after ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction. The test is called the Single Leg Step-Down test (SLSD). It has been shown to identify patients with weak hip and core musculature, which are important muscle groups to rehabilitate after undergoing ACL surgery. Although the surgery to reconstruct or repair the ACL usually takes only 1-2 hours, the rehabilitation can take 6-10 months. Determining the optimal time to return to sports is difficult, and no one test or measurement can determine when you are ready to return after surgery. However, numerous studies have shown that the trunk, hip, and core muscles are important factors in the neuromuscular control of the lower extremity, and that adequately strengthening these muscles after ACL surgery can help prevent against re-injury. In this study, performance on the SLSD test was significantly correlated with hip and core strength, especially in females. Further research will be performed to help determine the role of the SLSD test in predicting injury in athletes.
The research study was performed at the Biodynamics Gait Lab at the University of Kentucky, under the guidance of Mary Lloyd Ireland, MD and Brian Noehren, PT PhD.