The aim of the study was to use selected functional benchmarks (FBs) to assess the level of physical fitness in patients undergoing rehabilitation following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery. The study involved 115 patients (51 women) after ACL reconstruction surgery. The patients (aged 18-43) were monitored by an orthopedist during their rehabilitation. In order to supplement the clinical examination results, we applied our own classification of functional benchmarks and examination methods which allowed objective assessment of the degree of restoration of locomotor function at individual stages of rehabilitation. The following FBs were established: minimum (MFB), standard (SFB), optimal (OFB) and sports (SPFB). A poor clinical outcome was noted in 6 patients (5.2%). 104 patients had a stable knee on physical examination, and a significant restoration of the range of motion and circumference of the operated knees was noted in this group in the 12th week compared with the healthy knees. The patients walked 4 km on a treadmill, with female patients covering an additional 1.13 km, and male patients 2.04 km at an inclination angle of 10°. They climbed 116 steps when going up and then down stairs (separate counts). Between rehabilitation weeks 20 and 21, 81 patients (including 33 women) achieved significant improvement in muscle torques, which now approximated those of the non-operated limbs. Female patients covered a distance of 600 metres on a treadmill at the speed of 12 kph, and male patients covered 625 metres at 16 kph. Patients were also able to perform full knee bends and jumps with both feet.
SFB-level function was attained by 104 patients during 12 weeks of rehabilitation. The optimal functional benchmark (OFB) was achieved by 83 patients between the 13th and 21st week of rehabilitation. These results show the usefulness of functional benchmarking for assessing rehabilitation outcomes in patients planning to resume sports and recreational activity after an injury.