Background: Current clinical outcome measurements may overestimate the long term success of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). There is a need to understand biomechanics of the knee joint during daily activities. This systematic review provides a comprehensive overview of the literature related to gait in patients following ACLR. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the available literature and provide a comprehensive overview of kinematic and kinetic variables that present during gait in patients after ACLR.
Methods: A literature search was performed in AMED, CINAHL, EMBASE, Medline and Scopus between January 2000 and October 2012. Inclusion criteria included articles written in English, German or Dutch, and those reporting on gait analysis in patients after ACLR. Kinematic and/or kinetic data of the uninjured and ACLR knee and healthy controls (CTRL) were outcome measurements of interest. Each study's methodological quality was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme critical appraisal tool.
Results: Twenty two studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. A total of 479 patients with a mean age of 27.3 were examined. Time between the injury and surgery and ranged from 3 weeks to 5.7 years. Gait analysis was done at a mean of 29.3 months after surgery. Gait was found to be altered in the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes after ACLR and may take months or years to normalize, if normalization occurs at all.
Conclusion: Patients after ACLR have altered gait patterns that can persist for up to five years after surgery. It is imperative that rehabilitation techniques are examined in order to minimize changes in knee biomechanics during gait, as they have the potential to impact on the development of osteoarthritis.
Level of evidence: 3a.
Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; biomechanics; gait.