Knee Extensor Rate of Torque Development Before and After Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy, With Analysis of Neuromuscular Mechanisms

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Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Descriptive, prospective single-cohort longitudinal study.

BACKGROUND:

Though rapid torque development is essential in activities of daily living and sports, it hasn't been specifically tested by most physical therapists or incorporated into rehabilitation programs until late in the treatment process. Little evidence is available on quadriceps torque development capacity before and after arthroscopic knee surgery.

OBJECTIVES:

To study knee extensor rate of torque development, contributing mechanisms, and associations with strength and patient-reported outcomes before and during the first 6 weeks after arthroscopic partial meniscectomy.

METHODS:

Twenty subjects (mean ± SD age, 42.3 ± 13.7 years; body mass index, 26.6 ± 3.1 kg/m2) were tested before surgery, and at 2 and 5 weeks after surgery. Quadriceps muscle volume, strength, activation, rate of torque development, and patient-reported outcomes were evaluated across the study period.

RESULTS:

Significant side-to-side differences in quadriceps strength and voluntary rate of torque development were observed at each time point (P<.05). Changes in muscle activity were associated with changes in rapid torque development capacity. Side-to-side rate of torque development deficits after surgery were associated with lower patient-reported outcomes scores.

CONCLUSION:

Diminished rapid torque development capacity is common in arthroscopic meniscal debridement patients. This reduced capacity is associated with an inability to quickly recruit and drive the quadriceps muscles (neural mechanisms) and not muscle atrophy or other peripheral factors tested. Patient-reported outcomes are associated with quadriceps rate of torque development, but not strength or muscle size. Rapid torque development warrants greater attention in rehabilitation.

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