Background: Female athletes are at significantly greater risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury than male athletes in the same high-risk sports. Decreased trunk (core) neuromuscular control may compromise dynamic knee stability.
Hypotheses: (1) Increased trunk displacement after sudden force release would be associated with increased knee injury risk; (2) coronal (lateral), not sagittal, plane displacement would be the strongest predictor of knee ligament injury; (3) logistic regression of factors related to core stability would accurately predict knee, ligament, and ACL injury risk; and (4) the predictive value of these models would differ between genders.
Study design: Cohort study (prognosis); Level of evidence, 2.
Methods: In this study, 277 collegiate athletes (140 female and 137 male) were prospectively tested for trunk displacement after a sudden force release. Analysis of variance and multivariate logistic regression identified predictors of risk in athletes who sustained knee injury.
Results: Twenty-five athletes (11 female and 14 male) sustained knee injuries over a 3-year period. Trunk displacement was greater in athletes with knee, ligament, and ACL injuries than in uninjured athletes (P < .05). Lateral displacement was the strongest predictor of ligament injury (P = .009). A logistic regression model, consisting of trunk displacements, proprioception, and history of low back pain, predicted knee ligament injury with 91% sensitivity and 68% specificity (P = .001). This model predicted knee, ligament, and ACL injury risk in female athletes with 84%, 89%, and 91% accuracy, but only history of low back pain was a significant predictor of knee ligament injury risk in male athletes.
Conclusions: Factors related to core stability predicted risk of athletic knee, ligament, and ACL injuries with high sensitivity and moderate specificity in female, but not male, athletes.