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There is a lot of debate about the best graft to use for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. A graft is where tissue is taken from somewhere else to replace your ACL. We discuss this briefly in a previous blog entitled: Quad Tendon Graft vs Patellar Tendon Graft.

In this blog, we are going to focus the difference between a cadaver and a patellar tendon graft in terms of what you need to do after surgery. A cadaver graft means that the tissue used is from a deceased person and not your body's own tissue. After surgery, where the graft was taken from (typically the patellar tendon, hamstring tendon or a cadaver) determines exactly what you need to do to recover after surgery. The "what" you need to after surgery is often called your rehabilitation protocol.

When we compare what people need to do to recover after an ACL surgery from a patellar tendon graft and a cadaver graft, there is no evidence to show one type of rehabilitation program is superior to another[1][2]. The cadaver and patellar tendon rehabilitation protocols are the same!

No matter what type of ACL surgery you choose to do, there are three main goals of treatment:

  1. Alleviate Symptoms
  2. Restore Function
  3. Minimize Complications

Physiotherapy Goals:

  1. Gentle(pain-free), active range of motion exercises within the first few days
  2. Relieving pain and swelling, re-establishing full range of motion
  3. Regaining strength, proprioception, and dynamic stability

When you download and use the Curovate app for your ACL recovery, you will see that there is no option for a cadaver graft. The rehabilitation protocol for a patellar tendon graft is the same as for a cadaver graft. So you can select the patellar tendon option and use it for your recovery after an ACL surgery if a cadaver graft was used.

If you need further customized assistance during your surgery or injury recovery check out our Virtual Physical Therapy page to book your 1-on-1 video session with a physical therapist.

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1. Saka, T. (2014). Principles of postoperative anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation. World journal of orthopedics, 5(4), 450.

2. Failla, M. J., Arundale, A. J., Logerstedt, D. S., & Snyder-Mackler, L. (2015). Controversies in knee rehabilitation: anterior cruciate ligament injury. Clinics in sports medicine, 34(2), 301-312.