March 27, 2014
1 min read

Study finds most college football players return to play after ACL repair

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High-level college football players frequently return to the field after ACL reconstruction, according to results of a study of Division 1 NCAA football players presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Specialty Day.

With the cooperation of team orthopedists and athletic trainers from institutions throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pacific 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference, Daruwalla and colleagues studied data from 184 athletes who underwent ACL reconstruction from 2004 to 2010. Return to play (RTP) as well pertinent athletic and surgical variables that could alter an athlete’s RTP were analyzed.

Overall, the RTP rate was 82% for all athletes, a percentage that reached 95% for players who were starters prior to injury. They were followed by athletes who were moderately utilized in-game (88% RTP) while athletes who rarely played had a 73% RTP rate.

Collegiate career experience also played a significant role in RTP, as sophomores had the highest RTP rate (94%), followed by juniors, freshman and seniors at 89%, 83% and 73%, respectively. Athletes who were on scholarship had a significantly higher RTP rate (88%) than non-scholarship athletes (69%).

“Our research shows that returning from a major knee injury and surgery is definitely possible. Furthermore, we have found that the more motivated and skilled players are more likely to achieve this goal,” Jimmy Hoshang Daruwalla, MD, stated in a press release. “Sports medicine specialists will be able to use this data to help counsel players and tailor treatments for these collegiate athletes.”


Daruwalla J. Paper #7. Presented at: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Specialty Day; March 15, 2014; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Daruwalla has no relevant financial disclosures.