OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that increasing the hamstrings and quadriceps (H:Q) isokinetic strength ratio will, in the short term, improve the functional ability of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) deficient knee. METHODS: The isokinetic muscular characteristics at a speed of 60 degrees s-1 and 180 degrees s-1 of 46 recreational athletes with an arthroscopically confirmed ACL tear were determined using the Cybex II+ isokinetic dynamometer. The variables tested included peak torque, endurance ratio, total work output, and explosive power. Functional ability was scored with the Cincinnati rating system, measuring the severity of pain and swelling, the degree of giving way, and the overall ability to walk, run, ascent and descent stairs, jump and twist. RESULTS: Among all muscular characteristics, the H:Q ratio at 180 degrees s-1 at 30 degrees of knee flexion was shown to have the highest correlation to the functional score (r = 0.6249, P < 0.001). All variables involving hamstring strength were shown to be significantly correlated to the functional ability score (P < 0.01), while none of the variables involving quadriceps strength showed significant correlation with the functional ability of the injured knee. CONCLUSIONS: The H:Q ratio is strongly correlated to the functional ability of ACL deficient knees in Chinese recreational athletes. It could be used as an additional measure to guide in the decision making process in the management of ACL deficient knees.
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