The role of muscle activation in cruciate disease

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Traditional investigations into the etiopathogenesis of canine cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease have focused primarily on the biological and mechanical insults to the CCL as a passive stabilizing structure of the stifle. However, with recent collaboration between veterinarians and physical therapists, an increased focus on the role of muscle activity and aberrant motor control mechanisms associated with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and rehabilitation in people has been transferred and applied to dogs with CCL disease. Motor control mechanisms in both intact and cruciate-deficient human knees may have direct translation to canine patients, because the sensory and motor components are similar, despite moderate anatomic and biomechanical differences. Components of motor control, such as muscle recruitment and the coordination and amplitudes of activation are strongly influenced by afferent proprioceptive signaling from peri- and intra-articular structures, including the cruciate ligaments. In people, alterations in the timing or amplitude of muscle contractions contribute to uncoordinated movement, which can play a critical role in ACL injury, joint instability and the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). A better understanding of motor control mechanisms as they relate to canine CCL disease is vitally important in identifying modifiable risk factors and applying preventative measures, for development of improved surgical and rehabilitative treatment strategies. The purpose of this review article is to analyze the influence of altered motor control, specifically pelvic limb muscle activation, in dogs with CCL disease as evidenced by mechanisms of ACL injury and rehabilitation in people.

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