No differences in the functional assessment for decision-making regarding return to sports following ACL reconstruction in professional and semi-professional football (soccer) players
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BACKGROUND: To facilitate decision making regarding a patient's return to sport, a standardized and easy-to-use test battery including seven functional tests is proposed to objectively evaluate knee function after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. So far, no sports-specific normative data exist. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of a test battery in the setting of a professional soccer club. It was hypothesized that professional soccer players have a higher performance level in the functional tests than semi-professional soccer players. METHODS: Thirty-four healthy male professional and semi-professional soccer players (age 21.4± 4.1 years, height 179.9± 4.9 cm, weight 73.6± 6.1 kg) of a professional soccer club participated in this study. Players completed a test battery consisting of seven functional tests prior to a team training session. The functional tests were a two-legged and one-legged stability test, a two-legged and one-legged counter movement jump, speedy jumps, plyometric jumps, and a quick feet test. RESULTS: The professional and semi-professional soccer players differed in regard to the two-legged counter movement jump height (P=0.006) and power outcomes (P=0.01). Additionally, a significant difference in the one-legged-CMJ jump height (P=0.005) and one-legged-CMJ power (P=0.004) in the dominant leg was observed. The remaining functional tests showed no group differences. CONCLUSIONS: Assessing functional performance using the present test battery is simple during the athletic training sessions of the sports team. A difference between professional and semi-professional soccer players was seen in jump height; however, no differences were observed in the other tests. Additionally, if a player is injured, an objective evaluation regarding their functional readiness to return to sports is possible by reference to the player's scores on the test battery as completed pre-injury. No specific norm data are required, although the jump height data needs closer examination.
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