Criteria Used to Determine Unrestricted Return to Activity After ACL Reconstruction in Pediatric and Adolescent Patients: A Systematic Review


The rates of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) graft failure or contralateral ACL rupture range from 17% to 30% in pediatric patients after ACL reconstruction (ACLR). A contributing factor to the high reinjury rate in this population may be the limited evidence regarding appropriate criteria for allowing unrestricted return to activity (RTA) postoperatively.


To review the literature and identify the most commonly used criteria when determining unrestricted RTA after ACLR in pediatric patients.

Study Design:

Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.


A search was performed of the Medline/PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus databases using the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. The authors identified studies that included pediatric patients (<19 years of age) and specified the criteria used to determine RTA after ACLR.


A total of 27 articles met all criteria for review, of which 13 studies only used 1 criterion when determining RTA. Objective criteria were the most common type of criteria for RTA (17 studies). Strength tests (15 studies) and hop tests (10 studies) were the most commonly used tasks when deriving RTA criteria. Only 2 studies used validated questionnaires to assess the patient’s physiological readiness for RTA, and only 2 studies used an objective assessment of movement quality before RTA.

Other Areas of Research: Sports Medicine

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Sasha Carsen

    Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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