Muscle Strength and Efficiency of Muscle Activities Recovery Using Single-Joint Type Hybrid Assistive Limb in Knee Rehabilitation after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

J Clin Med. 2023 Sep 22;12(19):6117. doi: 10.3390/jcm12196117.


Decreased muscle strength often occurs after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction; this can include muscle atrophy, neuromuscular dysfunction, and reduced force generation efficiency. Hybrid assistive limb (HAL) technology, which integrates an interactive biofeedback system connecting the musculoskeletal system to the brain and spinal motor nerves, offers a potential intervention. Our study, conducted from March 2018 to August 2023 using knee HAL single-joint technology, was a prospective non-randomized controlled trial involving 27 patients who had undergone arthroscopic ACL reconstruction. They were split into two groups: HAL (18 patients) and control (nine patients). Beginning 18 weeks after their surgery, the HAL group participated in three weekly sessions of knee HAL-assisted exercises. Both the HAL and control groups underwent isokinetic muscle strength tests at postoperative weeks 17 and 21. Testing utilized an isokinetic dynamometer at 60°/s, 180°/s, and 300°/s. The Limb Symmetry Index (LSI) was employed to measure side-to-side differences. The HAL group showed significant LSI improvements in peak extension torque across all testing velocities and for peak flexion torque at 60°/s and 300°/s. The rate of change in LSI for peak flexion torque at 300°/s was significantly higher post-measurements (p = 0.036; effect size = 1.089). The change rate for LSI in peak extension torque at 300°/s and all peak flexion torques showed medium to large effect sizes in Cohen's d. In conclusion, knee HAL single-joint training positively influenced muscle strength recovery and efficiency. The HAL training group exhibited superior muscle strength at various isokinetic testing velocities compared to the control group.

Keywords: ACL reconstruction; isokinetic muscle strength; knee HAL single-joint training.

Grants and funding

This research was funded by a Grant-in-Aid for Encouragement of Scientists from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant number 20H01124) and Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant number 20K19303).