Background: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is commonly torn, and surgical reconstruction is often required to allow a patient to return to their prior level of activity. Avoiding range of motion (ROM) loss is a common goal, but little research has been done to identify when ROM loss becomes detrimental to a patient's future function.
Purpose: To determine whether there is a relationship between early knee side-to-side extension difference after ACL reconstruction and knee side-to-side extension difference at 12 weeks. The hypothesis was that early (within the first 8 weeks) knee side-to-side extension difference will be predictive of knee side-to-side extension difference seen at 12 weeks.
Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.
Methods: Knee side-to-side extension difference measures were taken on 74 patients undergoing ACL reconstruction rehabilitation at the initial visit and 4, 8, and 12 weeks postoperatively. Visual analog scores (VAS) and International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) scores were also recorded at these time frames.
Results: There was a strong relationship between knee extension ROM at 4 and 12 weeks (r = 0.639, P < .001) and 8 and 12 weeks (r = 0.742, P < .001). When the variables of knee extension ROM at initial visit and 4 and 8 weeks were entered into a regression analysis, the predictor variable explained 61% (R (2) = 0.611) of variance for knee extension ROM at 12 weeks, with 4 weeks (R (2) = 0.259) explaining the majority of this variance.
Conclusion: This study found that a patient's knee extension at 4 weeks was strongly correlated with knee extension at 12 weeks.
Clinical relevance: This information may be useful for clinicians treating athletic patients who are anxious for return to sport by providing them an initial goal to work toward in hopes of ensuring successful rehabilitation of their knee.
Keywords: ACL reconstruction; knee extension; range of motion; rehabilitation.