By Drew Heideman, PT/ATC


What are the Different Types of Grafts for an ACL Reconstruction?

This is one of the more common ACL FAQ that you hear on a daily basis. The 2 types of grafts utilized are known as Autografts and Allografts. Autografts come from the patient undergoing surgery. Autografts can be harvested from either the patellar tendon or the hamstring. Allografts come from a cadaver donor. The decision of which graft to use will likely depend on the physician’s preference and the activity level of the patient.

Anatomical diagram of an ACL tear with labels on the anatomy

ACL tear

When Can I Shower After Surgery?

After your surgical dressing is removed, most physicians will allow you to shower as long as the incisions are covered by plastic wrap (from your kitchen) or waterproof Band-Aids. Once your staples or sutures are removed, you are usually allowed to shower without restrictions. Baths are usually not permitted until your incisions are fully healed.

How Long Will I Need to Use Crutches?

Unless a medical professional tells you otherwise, the patient will use crutches for about 2 weeks and should apply as much weight on the leg as possible.

When Will I Get the Sutures/Staples Out?

The removal of sutures/staples will typically be about 10-14 days after the surgery at your first post operative appointment.

How Long Will I Need to Wear the Post-Op Brace?

The patient is typically to be in a brace for the first 2-4 weeks. The brace will be in a locked position for the first week of post-op during the day and at night. With adequate muscle control, the brace will be open for motion for ambulation and removal may be happen for sleeping and showering.  The patient can wean out of the the post-op brace.  Some physicians allow progression to a short Functional Brace and others allow progression without a brace.

When Should I Begin Physical Therapy for an ACL?

Physical therapy should begin as quickly as possible after surgery to avoid significant loss of quadriceps strengthening. The Physical Therapist will assess the patient’s strength, range of motion, and flexibility. The therapist will have the patient a list of exercises to perform at home from their therapist.

How Long is the Recovery Time for an ACL?

The recovery time after an ACL repair differs from patient to patient. It will also depend on the type of graft used.

How Many Appointments Do I Have To Go To?

The patient will usually follow up for routine post-op appointments 10-14 days after the surgery, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and at 1 year.

Physical therapy will likely last for 4-6 months.

When Can I Return to Sports After an ACL?

Between months 4 and 6, the patient will begin functional training and progress as tolerated with running, jumping, and agility. The patient may begin gradual return to participation in sports after 6 months. The 1 year benchmark is given by most providers to return to all sporting activities.

Related Article: Return to my sport after covid

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, go to: or call 904-858-7045

Related Articles: ACL Tear,  How Long Does ACL Rehab Take? and Torn ACL Symptoms.

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JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. Make an appointment by calling (904) JOI-2000 or schedule online.  A new option, you can now schedule and cancel follow-up appointments with your physician at the JOI Patient Portal. 

By: Drew Heideman, PT/ATC

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