Strategies for Enhancing Proprioception and Neuromuscular Control of the Knee
Proprioception and neuromuscular control of the knee are compromised after ligament injury and must be regained if the athlete is to return to high level sports at a normal injury risk level. The anterior cruciate ligament deficient and reconstructed knee will be used as a model to describe differences in proprioception and neuromuscular control to those of an uninjured knee. The purpose of the current review is threefold. First, the basic science of proprioception and neuromuscular control specific to the knee will be summarized and reviewed. The review will include an overview of terminology, neurophysiology, and the effects of injury on the function of both lower limbs. Second, tools used for assessment and rehabilitation of proprioceptive deficits will be evaluated. Specific rehabilitation procedures that incorporate prophylactic conditioning that focus on transitioning the injured athlete back into sport will be presented. Finally, the literature with respect to gender variation in proprioception and neuromuscular control will be evaluated. The goal of the current review is to provide the clinician and the clinical scientist with sufficient background information for the development of quantitative methods to evaluate a patient’s functional capacity and to assist in preventative, preoperative, and postoperative decision-making strategies.