Quadriceps strength and weight acceptance strategies continue to improve two years after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Ben D Roewer, Stephanie L Di Stasi, Lynn Snyder-Mackler
Journal of Biomechanics 2011 July 7, 44 (10): 1948-53
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most commonly-injured knee ligament during sporting activities. After injury, most individuals experience episodes of the knee giving way during daily activities (non-copers). Non-copers demonstrate asymmetrical quadriceps strength and movement patterns, which could have long-term deleterious effects on the integrity of the knee joint. The purpose of this study was to determine if non-copers resolve their strength and movement asymmetries within two years after surgery. 26 Non-copers were recruited to undergo pre-operative quadriceps strength testing and 3-dimensional gait analysis. Subjects underwent surgery to reconstruct the ligament followed by physical therapy focused on restoring normal range of motion, quadriceps strength, and function. Subjects returned for quadriceps strength testing and gait analysis six months and two years after surgery. Acutely after injury, quadriceps strength was asymmetric between limbs, but resolved six months after surgery. Asymmetric knee angles, knee moments, and knee and hip power profiles were also observed acutely after injury and persisted six months after surgery despite subjects achieving symmetrical quadriceps strength. Two years after surgery, quadriceps strength in the involved limb continued to improve and most kinematic and kinetic asymmetries resolved. These findings suggest that adequate quadriceps strength does not immediately resolve gait asymmetries in non-copers. They also suggest that non-copers have the capacity to improve their quadriceps strength and gait symmetry long after ACL reconstruction.

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