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Am J Sports Med. 1994 Jul-Aug;22(4):470-7.

Treatment of isolated medial collateral ligament injuries in athletes with early functional rehabilitation. A five-year follow-up study.

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  • 1Section of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.


A prospective study was designed to provide 5-year followup of the treatment of isolated grade III sprains of the medial collateral ligament with early functional rehabilitation in 35 athletes. After injury, patients were placed in lateral hinged braces to provide valgus support without restricting flexion or extension of the knee. Treatment was initiated with range of motion exercises performed in a whirlpool or swimming pool. Patients were then started on quadriceps setting and leg raises. When 90 degrees of flexion was present, resistive exercises were added. Upon recovery, patients were allowed to return to unrestricted sports. Followup consisted of both questionnaires and physical examination and was graded on the 50-point Hospital for Special Surgery scale. Mean followup was 5.3 years (range, 2.5 to 8); mean Hospital for Special Surgery knee rating score was 45.9 points (range, 41 to 50). These results are comparable with those achieved with surgery or immobilization by earlier investigators. Thus, early functional rehabilitation treatment of complete medial collateral ligament sprains produces results comparable with those achieved with surgery or immobilization while minimizing treatment-related morbidity and allowing more rapid return to sports participation.

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