Psychological Readiness to Return to Sport Is Associated With Second Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND::Psychological responses after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and ACL reconstruction (ACLR) have been identified as predictors of return to sport but have not been investigated in relation to further injury. PURPOSE/HYPOTHESIS::To determine whether psychological readiness to return to sport is associated with second ACL injury. It was hypothesized a priori that at both preoperative and 12-month postoperative time points, patients who sustained a second ACL injury would have lower psychological readiness than patients who did not have a second injury. STUDY DESIGN::Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2. METHODS::Patients who had a primary ACLR procedure between June 2014 and June 2016 completed the ACL-Return to Sport after Injury (ACL-RSI) (short version) scale before their ACLR and repeated the scale at 12 months after surgery to assess psychological readiness to return to sport. Patients were followed for a minimum of 2 years (range, 2-4 years) after surgery to determine further injury. The primary outcome was the relationship between ACL-RSI scores and the incidence of second ACL injury. RESULTS::In 329 patients who returned to sport after ACLR, 52 (16%) sustained a second ACL injury. No difference in psychological readiness was observed at the preoperative time point, but patients who sustained a second injury trended toward lower psychological readiness at 12 months compared with noninjured patients (60.9 vs 67.2 points; P = .11). Younger (≤20 years) patients with injury had significantly lower psychological readiness to return to sport than young noninjured patients (60.8 vs 71.5 points; P = .02), but no difference was found in older patients (60.9 vs 64.6 points; P = .58). In younger patients, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis revealed a cutoff score of 76.7 points with 90% sensitivity to identify younger patients who sustained a second ACL injury. CONCLUSION::Younger patients with lower psychological readiness are at higher risk for a second ACL injury after return to sport.

publication date

  • March 1, 2019