Kinematic analyses including finite helical axes of drop jump landings demonstrate decreased knee control long after anterior cruciate ligament injury

PLoS One. 2019 Oct 31;14(10):e0224261. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224261. eCollection 2019.


The purpose was to evaluate the dynamic knee control during a drop jump test following injury of the anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL) using finite helical axes. Persons injured 17-28 years ago, treated with either physiotherapy (ACLPT, n = 23) or reconstruction and physiotherapy (ACLR, n = 28) and asymptomatic controls (CTRL, n = 22) performed a drop jump test, while kinematics were registered by motion capture. We analysed the Preparation phase (from maximal knee extension during flight until 50 ms post-touchdown) followed by an Action phase (until maximal knee flexion post-touchdown). Range of knee motion (RoM), and the length of each phase (Duration) were computed. The finite knee helical axis was analysed for momentary intervals of ~15° of knee motion by its intersection (ΔAP position) and inclination (ΔAP Inclination) with the knee's Anterior-Posterior (AP) axis. Static knee laxity (KT100) and self-reported knee function (Lysholm score) were also assessed. The results showed that both phases were shorter for the ACL groups compared to controls (CTRL-ACLR: Duration 35±8 ms, p = 0.000, CTRL-ACLPT: 33±9 ms, p = 0.000) and involved less knee flexion (CTRL-ACLR: RoM 6.6±1.9°, p = 0.002, CTRL-ACLR: 7.5 ±2.0°, p = 0.001). Low RoM and Duration correlated significantly with worse knee function according to Lysholm and higher knee laxity according to KT-1000. Three finite helical axes were analysed. The ΔAP position for the first axis was most anterior in ACLPT compared to ACLR (ΔAP position -1, ACLPT-ACLR: 13±3 mm, p = 0.004), with correlations to KT-1000 (rho 0.316, p = 0.008), while the ΔAP inclination for the third axis was smaller in the ACLPT group compared to controls (ΔAP inclination -3 ACLPT-CTRL: -13±5°, p = 0.004) and showed a significant side difference in ACL injured groups during Action (Injured-Non-injured: 8±2.7°, p = 0.006). Small ΔAP inclination -3 correlated with low Lysholm (rho 0.391, p = 0.002) and high KT-1000 (rho -0.450, p = 0.001). Conclusions Compensatory movement strategies seem to be used to protect the injured knee during landing. A decreased ΔAP inclination in injured knees during Action suggests that the dynamic knee control may remain compromised even long after injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiology*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiopathology
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies

Grant support

The authors acknowledge support from the Swedish Scientific Research Council (project no. K2011-69X-21876-01-3), Umeå University (Young Researcher Awardee Grant No. Dnr 223-514-09, C Häger, and the Foundation for medical research), Västerbotten county council (Grant No. ALFVLL217301) Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports (CIF, Grant No. Dnr CIF 2013/5 P2014-0057), and Ingabritt & Arne Lundbergs research foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.