Purpose: This longitudinal study aimed to examine whether patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction show a similar landing strategy during the single-leg hop test (SLHT) postsurgery analog to that previously identified when ACL deficient. It is hypothesized that ACL-reconstructed patients demonstrate greater trunk flexion to reduce knee joint moments at the cost of postural dynamic stability at their involved leg compared to their uninvolved leg.
Methods: Ten ACL-reconstructed patients performed a bilateral SLHT 6 and 12 months after surgery. Landing mechanics were determined by means of a soft tissue artifact optimized, rigid, full-body model, and the margin of stability was quantified using an inverted pendulum approach. Knee extensor muscular strength (KS) was assessed during isometric maximal voluntary knee extension contractions.
Results: ACL-reconstructed patients showed similar landing strategies as previously reported in their ACL-deficient state. By flexing their trunk, patients repositioned the ground reaction force vector more anteriorly in relation to the joints of the lower extremity (P < 0.05) and, in doing so, were able to transfer joint moments from the knee to the adjacent joints (P < 0.05). This upper body strategy reduced the margin of stability in the ACL-reconstructed leg during landing (P < 0.05). Twelve months after surgery, the ACL-reconstructed leg showed lower KS compared to the uninvolved leg (P < 0.05), and knee joint moment output during landing was significantly correlated to KS.
Conclusions: The results highlight the important role of KS on the interaction between trunk angle, joint kinetics, and postural dynamic stability during landing and show that ACL-reconstructed patients use an analogous feedforward strategy (e.g., more flexed trunk) to that used in their ACL-deficient state, aiming to compensate for KS deficits and thereby sacrificing postural dynamic stability and increasing the risk of loss of balance during landing maneuvers.