Injury-Related Fears During the Return-to-Sport Phase of ACL Reconstruction Rehabilitation

Adam Meierbachtol, Michael Obermeier, William Yungtum, John Bottoms, Eric Paur, Bradley J. Nelson, Marc Tompkins, Hayley C. Russell, Terese L. Chmielewski

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21 Scopus citations


Background: Fear of reinjury is common after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) and often deters a return to preinjury sport participation. A better understanding of injury-related fear is needed to inform rehabilitation strategies. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to (1) identify individual fear-evoking tasks or situations, (2) compare the intensity and amount of change relative to other injury-related fears (reinjury, knee giving way, and knee pain) after completion of a return-to-sport training program, and (3) determine whether standardized questionnaires can identify the intensity of fear for the individual fear-evoking task or situation and for fear of reinjury. The hypothesis was that the task or situation that evokes fear would vary across patients and the intensity of that fear would be higher and show less change after return-to-sport training compared with other injury-related fears. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Participants included 33 patients (15 males; mean age, 18 years) with ACLR who enrolled in a group-format return-to-sport training program. Questionnaires completed before and after return-to-sport training included items to specify fear-evoking tasks or situations, items to rate the intensity of various injury-related fears, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament Return to Sport after Injury scale (ACL-RSI), and the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (TSK-11). Results: The most common fear-evoking task or situation was cutting, followed by contact, jumping, and other. Intensity of fear-evoking task or situation was higher than other injury-related fears, but all fears decreased in intensity after training. The ACL-RSI score better identified the intensity of fear for the individual fear-evoking task or situation and for fear of reinjury than did the TSK-11 score. Conclusion: Activities that evoke fear vary across patients, but fear of cutting is common. The intensity of common fears after ACLR decreased after advanced group training, and large effect sizes were seen for nearly all examined fears. Fear of reinjury and intensity of individually feared tasks may be better reflected in the ACL-RSI score than the TSK-11 score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • fear of reinjury
  • psychological readiness
  • return to sport

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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