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Am J Sports Med. 2019 Jan;47(1):31-40. doi: 10.1177/0363546518808006. Epub 2018 Nov 27.

Female Soccer Players With Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Have a Higher Risk of New Knee Injuries and Quit Soccer to a Higher Degree Than Knee-Healthy Controls.

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Region Jönköping County, Rehabilitation Centre, Ryhov County Hospital, Jönköping, Sweden.
Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Orthopedics, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Football Research Group, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.



Many patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction who return to sport suffer new ACL injuries or quit sports soon after returning.


To prospectively follow a cohort of female soccer players with primary unilateral ACL reconstruction and matched knee-healthy controls from the same soccer teams to compare (1) the rate of new traumatic and nontraumatic knee injuries and other injuries, (2) the proportion of players who quit soccer, and (3) player-reported activity level and satisfaction with activity level and knee function.


Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.


A total of 117 active female soccer players (mean ± SD age, 19.9 ± 2.5 years) 18.9 ± 8.7 months after ACL reconstruction and 119 knee-healthy female soccer players (19.5 ± 2.5 years) matched from the same teams were prospectively followed for 2 years for new knee injuries, other injuries, soccer playing level, activity level according to the Tegner Activity Scale, and satisfaction with activity level and knee function.


Players with ACL reconstruction had a higher rate of new ACL injuries (n = 29 vs 8; 19 vs 4 per 100 player years; rate ratio [RR], 4.82; 95% CI, 2.20-10.54; P < .001), other traumatic knee injuries (29 vs 16 per 100 player years; RR, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.16-2.93; P < .01), and nontraumatic knee injuries (33 vs 9 per 100 player years; RR, 3.62; 95% CI, 2.11-6.21; P < .001) as compared with controls. There was no difference in the rate of other (not knee) injuries (43 vs 48 per 100 player years; RR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.65-1.23; P = .494). During the 2-year follow-up, 72 (62%) players with ACL reconstruction quit soccer, as opposed to 43 (36%) controls ( P = .001). The median Tegner Activity Scale score decreased in both groups ( P < .001) but more for the ACL-reconstructed group ( P < .015).


Female soccer players with ACL reconstruction had nearly a 5-fold-higher rate of new ACL injuries and a 2- to 4-fold-higher rate of other new knee injuries, quit soccer to a higher degree, and reduced their activity level to a greater extent as compared with knee-healthy controls.


anterior cruciate ligament; female; football; reinjury; return to sports; satisfaction; soccer

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