Athletic Performance at the NFL Scouting Combine After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction.

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The American journal of sports medicine


BACKGROUND: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common and potentially career ending in the National Football League (NFL). Although statistical performance has been demonstrated after ACL reconstruction, functional performance is not well defined.

PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS: The purpose of this study was to determine the functional performance of NFL combine participants after ACL reconstruction compared with an age-, size-, and position-matched control group. The hypothesis was that there would be no difference between players after ACL reconstruction as compared with controls in functional athletic performance.

STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: A total of 98 NFL-caliber athletes who had undergone primary ACL reconstruction and participated in the NFL scouting combine between 2010 and 2014 were reviewed and compared with an age-, size-, and position-matched control group. Data recorded for each player included a 40-yard dash, vertical leap, broad jump, shuttle drill, and 3-cone drill.

RESULTS: With regard to speed and acceleration, the mean 40-yard dash time for ACL-reconstructed players was 4.74 seconds (range, 4.33-5.55 seconds) compared with controls at 4.74 seconds (range, 4.34-5.38 seconds; P = .96). Jumping performance was also similar, with a mean vertical leap for ACL-reconstructed players of 33.35 inches (range, 23-43 inches) and broad jump of 113.9 inches (range, 96-136 inches) compared with respective values for the controls of 33.22 inches (range, 23.5-43.5 inches; P = .84) and 113.9 inches (range, 92-134 inches; P = .99). Agility and quickness testing measures also did not show a statistically significantly difference, with ACL-reconstructed players performing the shuttle drill in 4.37 seconds (range, 4.02-4.84 seconds) and the 3-cone drill in 7.16 seconds (range, 6.45-8.14 seconds), respectively, compared with respective times for the controls of 4.37 seconds (range, 3.96-5.00 seconds; P = .91) and 7.18 seconds (range, 6.64-8.24 seconds; P = .75).

CONCLUSION: This study suggests that after ACL reconstruction, high-caliber athletes can achieve equivalent levels of performance with no statistically significant differences compared with matched controls. This information is unique when advising high-level athletes on athletic performance after ACL reconstruction, suggesting that those who fully recover and return to play appear to have no decrement in athletic performance.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries; Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction; Athletic Performance; Case-Control Studies; Football; Humans; Knee Injuries; Male; Retrospective Studies; Young Adult

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