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Identification and Predictors of Age-Relevant and Activity-Relevant Hop Test Targets in Young Athletes After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction.

CONTEXT: Performance symmetry between limbs (limb symmetry index [LSI] ≥ 90%) on a battery of single-leg hop tests is recommended to inform return-to-sport (RTS) decisions after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR). Achieving current hop test symmetry values has not been associated with future clinical outcomes. The identification of age-relevant and activity-relevant target values to benchmark the hop test performance of young athletes post-ACLR may provide greater specificity and clinical relevance for interpretation of hop test data.

OBJECTIVE: To identify single-leg hop test-target values for individual-limb performance and symmetry between limbs for athletes without a history of ACL injury and evaluate the proportion of young athletes post-ACLR who met the newly derived target values at the time of RTS clearance. The secondary objective was to test the hypothesis that better function and strength would be associated with achieving the newly derived hop test target values.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Pediatric medical center and academic medical center.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: A total of 159 young athletes (age = 16.9 ± 2.2 years) at the time of RTS clearance after primary, unilateral ACLR and 47 uninjured control athletes (age = 17.0 ± 2.3 years).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): All participants completed a single-leg hop test battery (single hop, triple hop, and crossover hop for distance [cm], and 6-m timed hop [seconds]). Raw distance values were normalized by body height, and LSI (%) was calculated for each hop test. Target values were defined as the lower bound of the 95% CI for each hop test, using control group data. Participants with ACLR also completed the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score subscales and a quadriceps femoris strength (newton meters/kilogram) assessment. Logistic regression determined predictors of achieving hop test target values in the ACLR group among injury, function, and strength data (P < .05).

RESULTS: In the ACLR group, 79% to 84% of participants met the 90% LSI threshold on each hop test. They achieved the target values for surgical-limb performance in the following proportions (% participants): single hop = 29%, triple hop = 24%, crossover hop = 30%, 6-m timed hop = 18%, all hops= 12%. Also, they met the target values for LSI in the following proportions: single hop = 43%, triple hop = 48%, crossover hop = 50%, 6-m timed hop = 69%, all hops = 25%. The only predictor of achieving all hop test targets for surgical-limb performance was greater surgical-limb quadriceps femoris strength (odds ratio = 4.10, P = .007). We noted a trend toward quadriceps femoris strength LSI ≥ 90% (odds ratio = 2.44, P = .058) as a predictor for meeting all hop test symmetry targets.

CONCLUSIONS: At the time of RTS post-ACLR, only a small proportion of young athletes achieved the age-relevant and activity-relevant single-leg hop test targets for surgical-limb performance or symmetry between limbs, even though a majority met the traditionally recommended 90% LSI threshold on hop tests.

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