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This article is the author’s final published version in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 10, Issue 3, March 2022, Pages 1-7.

The published version is available at Copyright © Brutico et al.


Background: The ability to return to school after orthopaedic surgery is an important consideration for young patients, as there is substantial literature indicating that school attendance is correlated strongly with academic performance.

Purpose: To evaluate the time to return to school, the barriers that students encounter when returning to school, and the academic effect of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) in high school (HS) and college students.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods: Full-time HS and college/graduate school (C/GS) students who underwent ACLR during the 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 academic periods were included in the study. Patients were contacted 2 weeks postoperatively to complete a questionnaire that assessed their time to return to school and barriers that interfered with their ability to return, and they completed a second questionnaire at 6 weeks postoperatively that assessed academic performance and challenges faced upon returning to school.

Results: Included were 36 (52.2%) full-time HS students and 33 (47.8%) full-time C/GS students. HS students reported a longer time to return to school compared with C/GS students (8.51 vs 5.89 days; P = .008). In addition, HS students missed more scheduled school days than C/GS students (5.39 vs 2.90 days; P < .001). The majority of HS (73.5%) and C/GS (65.5%) students cited pain as a barrier to return, and more than half of HS (70.6%) and C/GS (55.2%) students also cited restricted mobility as a barrier to return. HS students were more likely to miss an examination in the early postoperative period compared with their C/GS counterparts (65.7% vs 39.3%; P = .037). Many students in both cohorts received a grade less than expected in the early postoperative period; this was not significantly different between the 2 groups (HS, 50.0%; C/GS, 42.9%; P = .489).

Conclusion: ACLR can have a negative effect on school attendance and academic performance among HS and C/GS students. Orthopaedic surgeons should counsel all students and their families adequately about the potential academic effect of orthopaedic surgery in order to maximize clinical results, academic performance, and satisfaction in their patients.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.