ACL Program

Every year, more than 200,000 people in United States injure their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL Program at Boston Children’s Hospital has the expertise in ACL repair to help these athletes recover. Our research-based injury prevention services help reduce our patients’ risk of repeat ACL tears or sprains. We also offer comprehensive psychological support, if needed, to address the social and emotional impact of an ACL injury.

Our patients include everyone from aspiring novices to Olympic competitors. We tailor our ACL reconstruction techniques to match each patient’s age and physical maturity.

Returning to play healthy and strong after an ACL tear

Our goal is the same as yours — a healthy and strong return to play.

Hundreds of athletes with ACL injuries come to our program every year for our expertise, and more than 90 percent return to their sport. We work as a team with patients and families to help athletes come back as strong, or stronger, than they were before their injury.

As part of the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, our team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists are experts in caring for all types of knee damage, including injuries of the ACL, meniscus, and articular cartilage.

Our multidisciplinary team includes:

  • orthopedic surgeons
  • sports medicine physicians
  • injury prevention specialists
  • physical therapists
  • psychologists
  • dietitians

Learn about ACL injury from our patients and medical experts

“I wanted to be able to play sports again, especially in my final year of Little League and beyond.”

Read their stories

After Nate tore his ACL at the age of 12, physeal-sparing reconstruction got him back in the swing of his favorite game.

ACL injury prevention and return to play

Thanks to our unique partnership with The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, our patients have access to strength training and rehabilitation programs to help prevent ACL injury, or return to play safely after surgery.

Located in the same building as the Boston Children’s Waltham facility, The Micheli Center offers an ACL Injury Prevention Program. These small-group classes focus on strengthening participants’ knees, hips, and the muscles around them. Injury prevention specialists also teach athletes proper landing and squatting techniques, two motions that frequently cause ACL tears when performed incorrectly.

The Micheli Center also provides an ACL Return to Play Program for patients who have undergone ACL surgery at Boston Children’s. After surgery and physical therapy, patients work with specialists at the Micheli Center for six to 12 months to build strength, flexibility, and agility in the muscles that support and surround their knees. The program includes testing to determine when the athlete is ready to return to their sport without reinjuring their knee.

ACL injury prevention guides

These educational guides, developed by the clinicians at Boston Children’s, can help athletes reduce their risk of injury during practice and competition.

ACL Injury Prevention Fact Sheet

While ACL injuries are not entirely preventable, athletes can reduce their risk in a number of ways. This guide describes the role of fitness, targeted exercises, and proper athletic technique in safe athletic participation.

ACL Injuries and Female Athletes

Girls are five times more likely to tear an ACL than boys. This guide describes how female athletes can reduce their risk of injury through neuromuscular training to strengthen and stretch key muscle groups while also improving their agility.

Innovation in ACL repair

Through our ongoing research and innovation, the ACL Program has introduced new approaches to ACL care and played a key role in improving recovery for children and adults. For instance:

  • Lyle Micheli, MD, of Boston Children’s Sports Medicine Division, developed a procedure 30 years ago that enables surgeons to repair a torn ACL in a growing child without damaging with the child’s growth plate.
  • Martha M. Murray, MD, developed a technique, currently in clinical trials, that stimulates an athlete’s torn ACL to regenerate.
  • Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, is a principal investigator in the PLUTO study (Pediatric ACL: Understanding Treatment Outcomes), a 10-year, multi-site study of ACL treatment strategies. The study is following pediatric patients who have undergone treatment for torn ACLs in order to evaluate the outcomes and effectiveness of various surgical and non-surgical treatments.