This is a series of articles where we invite guests to write about relevant topics in rehabilitation and sports sciences.
Written by Parker Gregory, OTR/L, CHT / Co-Owner, The Upper Hand LLC
We practice in a rural area and it’s not often we get referrals for two ACL reconstruction patients within the same week, much less three. However this past October, as fate would have it, three new ACL patients, who were all high school football players, walked through our clinic doors to be evaluated. Coincidentally, all three were also from rival schools. In our experience, friendly competition in the clinic typically improves the outcomes of all involved. With the incorporation of the Easy Force digital dynamometer and Easy Angle digital goniometer, our three ultra competitive high school athletes could see exactly how they “measured up” throughout the rehabilitation process.
During week one, we used the Easy Angle to ensure each patient reached full knee extension, and during the following weeks we used it to quickly and accurately track knee flexion range of motion in adherence with the patient’s protocol. In the early weeks, we’ve also found the Easy Force to be a great tool in initiating gentle isometrics by having the patient maintain a force of no more than 20% of the unaffected leg’s max strength.
Flash forward two months later, and we were excited to break out the Easy Force with these athletes again. In the past, we would have performed some “good ol’ fashioned” manual muscle testing, given all three patients a “4/5" grade for quads and hamstrings, and that would suffice for insurance purposes. However, these guys want and need to know precisely how strong their affected lower extremities are before they even begin to think about returning to the football field. In this case, there was also a competitive component to using the Easy Force in the clinic. For instance, Patient A and Patient B had surgery on the same day, but Patient A had 80% quad strength compared to the unaffected side, while Patient B was at 70%. This resulted in Patient B working that much harder in the clinic and at home to catch up. Easy Force allowed for quick and convenient strength measurements to ensure these guys were progressing week to week and eventually hitting the necessary strength standards required to initiate jogging, sprinting, and jumping.
Easy Force and Easy Angle save time and take the guesswork out of strength and ROM measurements. This ensured all three of our patients would move and feel better than ever on the football field long before that first fall Friday night under the lights.