Objective: To determine how chronic anterior cruciate ligament deficient and surgically repaired subjects react to unexpected forward perturbations during gait as compared to healthy controls.
Design: Gait testing of 10 chronic anterior cruciate ligament deficient subjects prior to and three months following reconstructive surgery, and 10 uninjured controls.
Background: The ability of an anterior cruciate ligament injured individual to react and maintain equilibrium during gait perturbations is critical for the prevention of reinjury. No studies have investigated how these individuals respond to unexpected perturbations during normal gait.
Methods: An unexpected forward perturbation was induced upon heel strike using a force plate capable of translational movement.
Results: Prior to surgery, the anterior cruciate ligament subjects exhibited a greater knee extensor moment in response to the perturbation compared to healthy controls. Following surgery, the anterior cruciate ligament injured subjects exhibited a static knee position and a sustained knee extensor moment throughout stance in response to the perturbation as compared to controls.
Conclusions: These data suggest that chronic anterior cruciate ligament deficient subjects rely heavily on knee extensor musculature to prevent collapse in response to an unexpected perturbation. This same reactive response was more pronounced 3 months following surgery.
Relevance: The results suggest that, prior to and following surgery, chronic anterior cruciate ligament injured subjects respond differently than healthy controls to an unexpected perturbation during gait. Anterior cruciate ligament injured or repaired subjects do not reduce or avoid vigorous contraction of the quadriceps muscles when responding to gait perturbations.