Purpose: The purpose of the study was to investigate the biomechanics of walking and of the knee joint in the acute phase of ACL injury.
Methods: We examined 18 patients with acute ACL injuries and 20 healthy adults as controls. The biomechanics of the knee joint and of walking was assessed by 5 inertial sensors fixed with special cuffs to the lower back, the lower third of the thigh, and the lower third of the shank of the right and left legs. The movements and temporal characteristics were recorded while the subject was walking 10 m at a comfortable pace. Based on the results of examination, the patients were divided into two groups: with severe function impairment (6 patients) and with moderate function impairment (12 patients).
Results: It was found that in the first days post-trauma, not only the knee function was reduced, but the function of the entire lower limb as well. This led to a functional asymmetry. The kinematics of movements in the joints changed in accordance with slower walking. The walking became not only slower, but it was also associated with a decreased impact load in the weight acceptance phase. At later dates, the functional impairments were less pronounced. The total range of flexion motion did not exceed 20 degrees in the first group and 55 degrees in the second one. The injured joint developed functional immobilization within the first days post-injury. This was a guarding response by additional muscle strain to prevent unusual and limit physiological movements in the knee joint. The movements in the knee joint while walking were of small amplitude, rocking, and occurred only under load. The amplitude of the main flexion in the swing phase was reduced.
Conclusion: The stage of an ACL injury should be assessed not only based on the time post-trauma, but also taking account of the functional parameter-the knee range of flexion while walking. According to our findings, the only factor that had influenced the functional condition of the KJ was the duration of joint immobilization after trauma.
Keywords: Acute form; Anterior cruciate ligament; Gait analysis; Joint kinematics; Knee joint.