Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the strength of the knee flexors and knee extensors after two surgical techniques of ACL reconstruction and compare them to an age and activity level matched control group.
Methods: Twenty-four subjects who had undergone ACL reconstruction greater than 1 yr previously were placed into one of two groups according to autograft donor site: patellar tendon (BPB; N = 8) and hamstring (H; N = 16), and compared with an active, control group (N = 30). Knee flexor and extensor strength was evaluated using isovelocity dynamometry (5 speeds, eccentric and concentric, 5-95 degrees ROM). Strength maps were used to graphically analyze strength over a broad operational domain of the neuromuscular system. Average strength maps were determined for each autograft group and compared with controls. A difference map (control minus graft group) and confidence (t-test) maps were used to quantitatively identify strength deficits.
Results: The combined ACL group (N = 24) revealed a global 25.5% extensor strength deficit, with eccentric regional (angle and velocity matched) deficits up to 50% of control. Strength deficits covered over 86% of the sampled strength map area (P < 0.01). These knee extensor strength deficits are greater than previously reported. In addition, the BPB group demonstrated a concentric, low velocity, knee extensor strength deficit at 60-95 degrees that was not observed in the H group. Significant graft site dependent, regional knee flexor deficits of up to 50% of control were observed for the H group.
Conclusions: Strength deficits localized to specific contraction types and ranges of motion were demonstrated between the ACL and control groups that were dependent upon autograft donor site. Postoperative rehabilitation protocols specific to these deficits should be devised.