Sports Medicine

, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 647–657 | Cite as

Learned Helplessness After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: An Altered Neurocognitive State?

  • Julie P. Burland
  • Adam S. Lepley
  • Marc Cormier
  • Lindsay J. DiStefano
  • Robert Arciero
  • Lindsey K. LepleyEmail author
Current Opinion


Traumatic knee injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains, have detrimental effects on long-term health as they initiate a cycle of chronic pain, physical inactivity, and disability. Alterations in strength and neural activity are factors that contribute to rehabilitation failure after ACL reconstruction (ACLR); however, psychological deficits also hinder rehabilitative success. Neural impairments observed following injury and ACLR may be associated with psychological dysfunction, a phenomenon defined as learned helplessness (LH). The proposed framework establishes the link between depressed neural activity and psychological dysfunction after ACL injury using foundational evidence from neuroscience and psychology to support the integration of LH into recovery.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflicts of interest

Julie Burland, Adam Lepley, Marc Cormier, Lindsay DiStefano, Robert Arciero, and Lindsey Lepley declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.

Supplementary material

40279_2019_1054_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (262 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 261 kb)
40279_2019_1054_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (344 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 344 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie P. Burland
    • 1
  • Adam S. Lepley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marc Cormier
    • 3
  • Lindsay J. DiStefano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert Arciero
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lindsey K. Lepley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.University of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  3. 3.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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