ACL Recovery Story – When Should You Start Physio After ACL Surgery?

The article below is from Laura’s mother, Laura tore her ACL playing volleyball and they are wondering on the pace of recovery. I share my opinion and some useful links at the bottom of Laura’s story on the question of when should you start physio after ACL surgery?

My youngest daughter, Laura (age 15 ½) tore her ACL in high school volleyball. Her surgery was November 7th.  She began physical therapy November 20th

Tore ACL Playing Volleyball

I am worried if this was a late start for us for physical therapy— could this extra time have inadvertently built up scare tissue? Her knee seems sooooo stiff!!


We are not familiar with ACL ‘situations’ and have been relying on the advice of our surgeon and Physical Therapist. Both seem very, very knowledgeable in this area.


I guess the only thing I could concern or complaint I may have at the moment, is that this recovery process seems to be insanely slow (is this normal?) and of course painful (we knew that). The PT had a goal for Laura- get that knee from 85 to 95 degrees in one week….so from Nov 28th to Dec 5th, indeed she did make that goal. But I have to tell you, the progress is so slow, if we hadn’t measured, I would have thought there was absolutely no improvement. With that, on her off days, last night before she went to bed, I saw her doing her exercises…..which is great….she has been discouraged somewhat though. She is down to one crutch at the moment s the PT has showed her how to walk with it.


I was asking the PT about these concerns….she assured me, yes it is insanely slow process…..big thing about your website was to set goals….when she got home from school last week, I printed out the protocol for her….this was our first instance of realizing she needed to make goals, then shortly there afterwards, the PT started setting goals……so, goal for next Wednesday is another 10degrees…..would be thrilled if she could make that goal….she seems to be trying now and more focused…..hopefully less discouraged


When Should You Start Physio After ACL Surgery?


According to a study completed by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons it is one of the most important determinants of how well you will recover from ACL surgery…


“The most important thing for ACL surgery patients is to start physical therapy early and rigorously,” says Rick W. Wright, MD, professor and co-chief of the sports medicine department at the Washington University Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, St, Louis, Mo. “It can be difficult at first, but it’s worth it in terms of returning to sports and other activities.”

Original Press Release – Here


Below is a video showing some of the best range of motion exercises to do after surgery…

Image By Jeremy Wilburn

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises


  1. My surgery turned out to be a total knee replacement surgery. I went to Dr. Berger of Midwest Orthopedics at Rush University in Chicago. He represents a group that are surgeons for the Chicago Bulls and Whitesox. He has developed a total revolutionary minimally invasive total knee replacement where he does not severe any muscle , ligament , or tendon in the procedure. Even my local orthopedic surgeon in Florida said that it was impossible.

    I was walking up and down stairs the same day of surgery Jan 6th,2011 and am back to playing pretty high level singles tennis and recreational basketball. Was just back for an annual visit…everything fine and go back in two years. By the way I am 57 years old and have always had athletics to be a big part of my life.

    You can actually view his procedure and actually surgeries online at Midwest Orthopedics. He also does a similar hip surgery. Quite amazing !

    I would highly recommend Dr. Berger and his team.