Author: Melissa Christino

Five strategies to keep your athlete engaged and positive after ACL surgery

christino-043 (2)About the blogger: Melissa Christino, MD, is an orthopedic sports medicine fellow in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Sports Medicine Division.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in children and teens can be challenging injuries. While the surgery for ACL reconstruction generally involves minimal hospital time, patients must complete six to nine months of aggressive physical therapy to rehabilitate the injured leg, help optimize results and prevent re-injury.

Recovering from an ACL injury can be more devastating to a young athlete than the injury itself, and it is important for parents to be aware of the psychological consequences that may accompany their child’s physical injury. Having a positive attitude has been shown to significantly help with rehabilitation and surgical outcomes.

How might my child feel after an ACL injury?

While it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly what any athlete is experiencing during recovery from ACL surgery, there are some common patterns.

Young athletes can often feel isolated and depressed during this time. Not only are they missing months and months of their sports seasons, but they are also taken away from the camaraderie of their teammates, unable to participate in activities that bring them happiness and fulfillment and are uncertain of how they will be able to perform once they return to sports. It can also be very hard for a developing child or adolescent to fully commit to what seems like endless rehabilitation with long-term results.

Parents, coaches, friends and teammates can help young athletes through the recovery process.

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