10 Ways to Stay on Your Path to Recovery 

1. Follow your post-operative instructions

Your physician will give you detailed instructions to keep you safe immediately following your surgery. It’s essential that you and your parents read these instructions carefully to fully understand what to expect in the first few days. It’s normal to have questions and our team is happy to answer these at any point.

2. Attend your follow-up appointments

Your physician is the quarterback of the sports medicine team. In order for the physician to call the correct plays, they need to see you in the office on a regular basis. During these appointments, they may take x-rays, examine your knee, and answer any questions. After the appointment your physician will be able to communicate with your physical therapist, athletic trainer, and exercise specialist to make adjustments to your return to sport plan.

3. See your physical therapist regularly

Physical therapy is crucial to your return to sport plan. In your PT sessions, you will learn how to bend and straighten your knee, use your muscles again, walk, run, and ultimately get back into sport. Going to physical therapy regularly will allow your physical therapist to progress you at the right pace to help get you back in the game when you are safe to do so.

4. Do your home exercises

While physical therapy is essential, it is nothing without your home exercises. Your physical therapist will update your home exercises regularly to make sure they are challenging enough for you and may ask you to go to the gym or work with your athletic trainer to help your quad muscle get stronger. The patients who do their home exercises every day always get back to sport faster. 

5. Tell someone if it doesn't feel right

  • Always tell someone if something feels off both mentally and physically. 
  • Throughout your rehab process, you will feel a lot of new sensations in your knee and most of the time these should not be scary. But always tell your physician, PT, or athletic trainer about it immediately so we can help decide if this is a normal part of rehab.
  • It’s very normal after a knee surgery to feel sad or worried about your future with sports. CHKD is dedicated to helping our patients stay mentally engaged in the long rehab process and will help you get back on track as long as you tell us about it.

6. Engage with other patients

Having knee surgery, especially an ACL reconstruction, is becoming more common, but it is okay if you are the first person you know who has gone through this. CHKD has programs to help connect you with other kids who have had the same surgery. Just ask us to connect you. 

7. Trust the process

Trusting in the process is hard, particularly when it's long. Our team at CHKD has a criteria-based rehab process; once you are ready to move to the next phase of your rehab, we will take you there. You will have to have the motion and strength in order to jump, and jump before you can run, and run before you, and cut before you play sports. This whole process takes at least nine months and may not be a straight trajectory, but your CHKD team will be there to guide you through the entire process.

8. Work hard

Returning to sport after knee surgery is no small feat. In order to make your comeback, it will take hard word. The rehabilitation process is long and challenging. But as much work as you put in, your CHKD team will put in the same amount to get you back in the game.

9. Engage with your sport

Just because you are out of the game doesn’t mean you are out of the sport. Your mental and physical well being are just as important to your recovery. We encourage you to participate in team social functions, attend practices (and complete your home exercises instead of practice), and support your team on the sideline during games.

10. Practice whole body wellness

Recovery is about more than just your knee. It is important to maintain the same healthy habits that you did when you were playing your sport. This means maintaining a healthy diet, sleeping well, and keeping up with your hydration.