- NHL players had a significantly higher rate of RTP (95.8% vs 83.4%) and a significantly shorter recovery time than athletes in all the other sports.
- NFL athletes experienced significantly shorter careers postoperatively than players in all the other sports and had the lowest rate of active players 2 and 3 seasons postoperatively. NFL players also had a decrease in performance for up to 2 years postoperatively.
- NBA players showed decreased performance at season 1 after ACLR but recovered to baseline performance during the 2nd season.
Discussion: These findings provide some interesting points. We know from the research and injury data that NHL players suffer less ACL injuries than NBA and NFL players. There are several potential reasons for this including:
- Biomechanics of movement – for the NHL player, their lower kinetic chain does not go through the similar biomechanical patterns as a running athlete. Due to the skate and the skating motion, the forward propulsion is not the result of the bounding motion that a running athlete goes through. Therefore the ground reaction force and the adduction moments that other athletes are subjected to, the NHL player is not subjected to.
- Muscle physiology of movement – in NHL players, the forward propulsion that occurs requires a significant activation of the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. Both of these muscles are directly responsible for preventing of the adduction and internal rotation moments that occur at the knee and therefore are often not an area of great weakness in these athletes.
In addition to these findings in NHL players, some of the other results that stick out is the impact that an ACLR has to the NFL player. Based on the results of this study, an NFL player who has an ACLR:
- Will have their athletic performance impacted for up to 2 years after their ACLR
- Will have their athletic career reduced by 2 years
These results can be devastating to an NFL player. Considering that the average NFL player’s career is only 5 years, this can have a huge impact on their career earning potential. In addition, if their bonuses from game to game and season to season depends on their performance, if their performance is decreased for 2 years post ACLR, then this also has a huge impact on their long term professional sports earnings.