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Despite the abundance of clinical and scientific research focused on improving and further developing surgical treatment options for articular cartilage pathology, an ideal treatment algorithm for individual patients is still lacking. The development of evidence-based rehabilitation programs has largely lagged behind the emergence of new surgical treatments, in part due to the challenge in evaluating both a new surgical treatment and a modified rehabilitation strategy at the same time. Traditional articular cartilage rehabilitation has been based on a “do no harm” philosophy and largely on data from basic science and animals. While this strategy is not wrong, as cartilage repair procedures become the standard of care, high-quality scientific investigations of rehabilitation and its effect on outcomes are key to ensuring that patients achieve the highest possible levels of function.
In this special issue of Journal of Sport Rehabilitation (JSR), investigations regarding the influence of varied individual patient and surgical factors on the rehabilitative process, accelerated pathways of postoperative care, and criteria for determining whether it is safe for an individual to return to his or her chosen sport or other activities postoperatively are presented. The papers highlight some of the most current procedures, rehabilitation approaches, and research standards that, with continued refinement, will result in improved outcomes for patients.