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Rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament injury influences joint loading during walking but not hopping


Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify changes in clinical outcome and lower extremity biomechanics during walking and hopping in ACL-injured subjects before and after a 20-session neuromuscular and strength training programme.

Study design: Pre and post experimental design.

Setting: Outpatient clinic, primary care.

Patients: 32 subjects with unilateral ACL injury, mean 60 (SD 35) days after injury, with a mean age of 26.2 (5.4) years.

Intervention: The rehabilitation programme consisted of neuromuscular and strength exercises.

Main outcome measurements: Outcome measurements assessed before and after a 20-session rehabilitation programme were: self-assessment questionnaires (KOS-ADL, IKDC2000, Global function), four single-leg hop tests, and isokinetic muscle strength tests. Lower extremity kinematics and kinetics were captured during the stance phase of gait and landing after a single leg hop, synchronised with three force plates.

Results: These ACL-injured individuals significantly improved their clinical outcome after rehabilitation. Gait analysis disclosed a significantly improved knee extension moment after rehabilitation, but no change in hip or knee excursions. During landing after hop no change in knee excursion or knee moment was recorded.

Conclusion: After rehabilitation the ACL-injured subjects showed a significantly improved clinical outcome, but lower extremity biomechanics were still significantly impaired during both walking and hopping. The rehabilitation programme influenced knee joint loading during walking, but not during hopping. Longer rehabilitation should be considered before ACL-injured individuals return to jumping activities.

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