Gait biomechanics are not normal after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and accelerated rehabilitation

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Accelerated rehabilitation for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and reconstruction surgery is designed to return injured people to athletic activities in approximately 6 months. The small amount of empirical data on this population suggests, however, that the torque at the knee joint may not return until 22 months after surgery during walking and even longer during running. Although the rehabilitation has ended and individuals have returned to preinjury activities, gait mechanics appear to be abnormal at the end of accelerated programs. The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity joint kinematics, kinetics, and energetics between individuals having undergone ACL reconstruction and accelerated rehabilitation and healthy individuals.


Eight ACL-injured and 22 healthy subjects were tested. Injured subjects were tested 3 wk and 6 months (the end of rehabilitation) after surgery. Ground reaction force and kinematic data were combined with inverse dynamics to predict sagittal plane joint torques and powers from which angular impulse and work were derived.


The difference in all kinematic variables between the two tests for the ACL group averaged 38% (all P < 0.05). The kinematics were not different between the ACL group after rehabilitation and healthy subjects. Angular impulses and work averaged 100% difference for all joints (all P < 0.05) between tests for the ACL group. After rehabilitation, the differences between injured and healthy groups in angular impulse and work at both the hip and knee remained large and averaged 52% (all P < 0.05).


Results indicated that after reconstruction surgery and accelerated rehabilitation for ACL injury, humans walk with normal kinematic patterns but continue to use altered joint torque and power patterns.

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