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Biomechanical Threshold Values for Identifying Clinically Significant Knee-Related Symptoms Six Months Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction.

CONTEXT: Slower habitual walking speed and aberrant gait biomechanics are linked to clinically significant knee-related symptoms and articular cartilage composition changes linked to posttraumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR).

OBJECTIVE: To determine specific gait biomechanical variables that can accurately identify individuals with clinically significant knee-related symptoms post-ACLR, and the corresponding threshold values, sensitivity, specificity, and odds ratios for each biomechanical variable.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis.

SETTING: Laboratory.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Seventy-one individuals (n=38 female; age=21±4 years; height=1.76±0.11 m; mass=75.38±13.79 kg) who were 6 months post-primary unilateral ACLR (6.2±0.4 months).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: 3D motion capture of 5 overground walking trials was used to calculate discrete gait biomechanical variables of interest during stance phase (1st and 2nd peak vertical ground reaction force [vGRF]; midstance minimum vGRF; peak internal knee abduction and extension moments; and peak knee flexion angle), along with habitual walking speed. Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scores (KOOS) was used to dichotomize patients as symptomatic (n=51) or asymptomatic (n=20) using the Englund et al. 2003 KOOS guidelines for defining clinically significant knee-related symptoms. Separate receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and respective areas under the curve (AUC) were used to evaluate the capability of each biomechanical variable of interest for identifying individuals with clinically significant knee-related symptoms.

RESULTS: Habitual walking speed (AUC=0.66), vGRF at midstance (AUC=0.69), and 2nd peak vGRF (AUC=0.76), demonstrated low-to-moderate accuracy for identifying individuals with clinically significant knee-related symptoms. Individuals who exhibited habitual walking speeds ≤1.27 m/s, midstance vGRF ≥0.82 BW, and 2nd peak vGRF ≤1.11 BW, demonstrated 3.13, 6.36, and 9.57 times higher odds of experiencing clinically significant knee-related symptoms, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Critical thresholds for gait variables may be utilized to identify individuals with increased odds of clinically significant knee-related symptoms and potential targets for future interventions.

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