Background: Outcomes following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction are considered poor. There are many factors which may influence patient outcomes. As such, the purpose of this review was to report on the influence, barriers to and facilitators of rehabilitation adherence and participation after ACL reconstruction, providing information to help clinicians and patients make quality decisions to facilitate successful rehabilitation.
Methods: A systematic search of five electronic databases was undertaken in identifying studies from inception to 18 July 2019. The search included English language articles reporting on the influence, barriers to and facilitators of adherence and participation in rehabilitation of patients who have undergone ACL reconstruction. Data extraction and synthesis of included studies were undertaken.
Results: Full text articles (n = 180) were assessed for eligibility following screening of titles and abstracts (n = 1967), yielding 71 studies for inclusion. Forty-four articles investigated ‘rehabilitation prescription and participation’ and 36 articles investigated ‘rehabilitation barriers and facilitators’. The results indicate that a moderately or minimally supervised rehabilitation program is at least as effective as a fully supervised high-frequency rehabilitation program, although a longer duration of supervised rehabilitation is associated with improvement in a multitude of functional outcomes. A number of psychological factors associated with rehabilitation adherence were also identified. The most commonly investigated concepts were self-motivation, athletic identity and social support. Patients perceived the therapeutic relationship, interaction with family and friends, self-motivation, fear of reinjury, organisation/lack of time and interpersonal comparison as the most common barriers to and facilitators of rehabilitation.
Conclusions: A longer duration of supervised rehabilitation is associated with an increased chance of meeting functional and return to sport criteria; however, the optimal supervised rehabilitation frequency is yet to be determined. Identification of the barriers to and facilitators of adherence and participation in ACL rehabilitation provides an opportunity for further research to be conducted to address personal, environmental and treatment-related factors, with the aim to improve rehabilitation outcomes.