(STUDY FINDS) -- ANN ARBOR, Mich. — An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear is a devastating injury. While reconstructive surgery can usually restore most of an individual’s range of movement, it’s very common for some joint function to be permanently gone. Moreover, once someone suffers a torn ACL, their chances of experiencing another increases considerably, regardless of a dedicated and thorough physical therapy regiment. Up until now, doctors and researchers have been puzzled as to why ACL tears tend to re-occur, but a new study has provided some much needed and surprising answers.
The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology has discovered that patients who have undergone ACL reconstruction surgery display noticeable structural changes in their brains. These changes appear to impede their recovery and even contribute to poor subsequent athletic performance and re-injury.
The research team took MRI brain scans of 10 patients who had undergone ACL-reconstruction. All of the patients’ corticospinal tracts had atrophied. The corticospinal tract runs through both hemispheres of the brain and serves as a pathway that sends messages from the brain to muscles. In all studied patients, the side of the tract responsible for the knee that had the torn ACL was 15% smaller than on the uninjured side.
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