Rate of Force Development Remains Reduced in the Knee Flexors 3 to 9 Months After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Using Medial Hamstring Autografts: A Cross-Sectional Study

Jakob Lindberg Nielsen*, Kamilla Arp, Mette Lysemose Villadsen, Stine Sommer Christensen, Per Aagaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is a serious injury with a high prevalence worldwide, and subsequent ACL reconstructions (ACLR) appear to be most commonly performed using hamstring-derived (semitendinosus tendon) autografts. Recovery of maximal muscle strength to ≥90% of the healthy contralateral limb is considered an important criterion for safe return to sports. However, the speed of developing muscular force (ie, the rate of force development [RFD]) is also important for the performance of many types of activities in sports and daily living, yet RFD of the knee extensor and flexor muscles has apparently never been examined in patients who undergo ACLR with hamstring autograft (HA). Purpose: To examine potential deficits in RFD, maximal muscle strength (ie, maximal voluntary isometric contraction [MVIC]), and functional capacity of ACLR-HA limbs in comparison with the healthy contralateral leg and matched healthy controls 3 to 9 months after surgery. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence: 3. Methods: A total of 23 young patients who had undergone ACLR-HA 3 to 9 months earlier were matched by age to 14 healthy controls; both groups underwent neuromuscular screening. Knee extensor and flexor MVIC and RFD, as well as functional capacity (single-leg hop for distance [SLHD] test, timed single-leg sit-to-stand [STS] test), were assessed on both limbs. Furthermore, patient-reported knee function (Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score) was assessed. Results: Knee extensor and flexor MVIC and RFD were markedly compromised in ACLR-HA limbs compared with healthy contralateral limbs (MVIC for extensor and flexor, 13% and 26%, respectively; RFD, 14%-17% and 32%-39%) and controls (MVIC, 16% and 31%; RFD, 14%-19% and 30%-41%) (P <.05-.001). Further, ACLR-HA limbs showed reduced functional capacity (reduced SLHD and STS performance) compared with contralateral limbs (SLHD, 11%; STS, 14%) and controls (SLHD, 20%; STS, 31%) (P <.01-.001). Strength (MVIC) and functional (SLHD) parameters were positively related to the duration of time after surgery (P <.05), although this relationship was not observed for RFD and STS. Conclusion: Knee extensor and flexor RFD and maximal strength, as well as functional single-leg performance, remained substantially reduced in ACLR-HA limbs compared with noninjured contralateral limbs and healthy controls 3 to 9 months after reconstructive surgery.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume48
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)3214-3223
ISSN0363-5465
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Nov 2020

Keywords

  • ACL rehabilitation
  • limb asymmetry
  • neuromechanical muscle function
  • rate of force development
  • RFD

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