Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Patients After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

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Abstract

Background:

Returning to a healthy level of physical activity is among the most commonly discussed clinical goals for patients recovering from anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). However, physical activity has not been objectively measured in this population.

Purpose:

To investigate differences in the mean time (min/d) spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) as well as the daily step count (steps/d) between patients who underwent ACLR and matched controls. A second purpose was to investigate relationships between MVPA and objective assessments of the daily step count and Tegner and Marx activity scales.

Study Design:

Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods:

Physical activity was assessed using ActiGraph accelerometers in 33 participants with a history of primary unilateral or bilateral ACLR (mean time from surgery, 27.8 ± 17.5 months; range, 6-67 months) as well as in 33 healthy controls (matched on age, sex, and activity level). Participants wore the accelerometer for 7 days and completed the International Knee Documentation Committee subjective form and the Tegner and Marx activity scales. Independent t tests were used to determine differences in each dependent variable per group.

Results:

Patients who underwent ACLR spent less time in MVPA (ACLR: 79.37 ± 23.95 min/d; control: 93.12 ± 23.94 min/d; P = .02) and had a lower daily step count (ACLR: 8158 ± 2780 steps/d; control: 9769 ± 2785 steps/d; P = .02) compared with healthy matched controls. However, the Marx (ACLR median: 11.0 [interquartile range (IQR), 7-14]; control median: 12.0 [IQR, 8-13]; P = .85) and Tegner (ACLR median: 6.0 [IQR, 5-8]; control median: 7.0 [IQR, 6-8]; P = .12) scores did not differ between the groups, and no relationships were observed between objectively measured physical activity and scale measures (P > .05), except for a moderate relationship between the Tegner score and daily step count in the ACLR group (r = 0.36, P = .04). Only 24% of patients who underwent ACLR met the guideline of 10,000 steps per day compared with 42% of controls.

Conclusion:

Patients who underwent ACLR spent less time in MVPA and had a lower daily step count compared with highly matched controls (age, sex, and activity level) with no history of knee injuries. This was true despite being similar in activity levels, which brings into question the utility of the Tegner and Marx activity scales.

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