Individuals with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction are at increased risk to develop knee osteoarthritis (OA). Gait analysis describing kinetics of the lower extremity during walking and stair use (stair ascent and stair descent) can provide insight to everyday dynamic knee joint loading. In this study, we compared lower extremity gait patterns of those with ACL reconstruction (>1 year) to a control group. Fifteen ACL reconstructed individuals and 17 healthy controls participated in this study. Knee extensor and flexor strength were assessed. Using inverse dynamics, lower extremity moments were calculated during the stance phase of walking and during two steps of stair ascent and descent. Univariate ANOVA was used to test for main effects between (1) injured leg and control group and (2) non-injured leg and control group. Student paired t-tests were used to determine differences between the injured and non-injured leg. Those with ACL reconstruction exhibited reduced initial knee flexion angles during stair descent, reduced knee extension moments during stair descent and stair ascent (second step), and increased hip extension moments during stair ascent (second step) and walking as compared to controls. Knee flexor strength was significantly reduced in the ACL group, but no differences were found in knee extensor strength. No kinematic or kinetic differences were observed between the injured and non-injured leg of the ACL group. Walking and stair ambulation highlight altered joint loading in those with ACL reconstruction surgery. Individuals appeared to compensate for lower knee extension moments by increasing hip extension moments. Furthermore, the load distribution on the articular cartilage is likely shifted as evidenced by reduced knee flexion angles in the ACL reconstructed leg.
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