Jan 09, 2024 / Sports Medicine

Supporting the Mental Aspects of Recovery after an ACL Reconstruction

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries (ACL) continue to be a problem in youth sports such as basketball and soccer. Many athletes and families are very aware of the lengthy physical aspect of returning to sport after an ACL injury and surgery. Some are surprised by the mental challenges and demands that come along with an injury. Patients, like Johanna, are supported by our multi-disciplinary team from the moment they walk into our sports medicine clinic.

Watch Johanna tell her story.

Physical therapist Rushi Patel says, “a lot of times people talk about the physical aspect of an ACL initial injury but you could argue the mental aspect is just as hard.”

Upon arrival, our team begins assessing a new patient from the “inside out.” We ask questions about how the athlete was injured, what level of competition they want to return to and what challenges they are facing physically and mentally in addition to the injury. These help us decide who needs to be involved in the athlete’s care from day one. Here are three tools we implement in our care of young athletes:
  • Certified child life specialists assist children and teens in understanding diagnoses and medical procedures, this helps to keep anticipation and fear under control.
  • Psychologists are available to consult when our clinic team or responses to screening questionnaires suggest an athlete may need more individualized guidance on pain management, coping with the injury and fears related to returning to sports.
  • Many of our patients receive stress management and pain management skill instructions to help them navigate day to day moments and the progression of rehabilitation. Download PDF.
Every team member, from nurse to physical therapist is focused on caring for kids and teens all day, every day. We use age- and developmentally appropriate strategies when we talk to kids, formulate treatment plans and create our educational materials.

Johanna says, “Scottish Rite has been like no other care I've gotten at a medical facility I truly feel loved and cared for and not just seen as a number or a patient with an issue to get resolved but they truly care about who I am what my goals are and ultimately what I want to accomplish in life.”

Check out how you can help us learn to prevent ACL injuries.

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