Gait adaptations before and after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997 Jul;29(7):853-9. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199707000-00003.


Gait analyses of rehabilitated individuals with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) deficiency and reconstruction have identified the final adaptations of increased hip extensor torque and hamstring electromyography (EMG) and decreased knee extensor torque and quadriceps EMG during stance. The initial adaptations to injury and surgery are, however, unknown as are the factors that influence the development of the adaptations. Identification of the initial response to injury would provide a basis for determining whether the final adaptations are learned automatically or if they are the result of a lengthy training period in which various factors may affect their development. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the initial effects of ACL injury and reconstruction surgery on joint kinematics, kinetics, and energetics, during walking. Injured limbs from nine subjects with ACL injury were tested 2 wk after injury, and 3 and 5 wk after surgery. Ten healthy subjects were tested. Kinematic and ground reaction data were collected and combined with inverse dynamics to calculate the joint torques and powers. A knee extensor torque throughout most of stance was observed in the injured limbs at all test sessions. This result was in conflict with previous observations of reduced extensor torque or a flexor torque in rehabilitated patients with ACL reconstruction and patients with ACL deficiency. This result also differed from the typical midstance extensor then flexor torque in healthy control subjects. Trend analysis showed a significant (P < 0.001) change in average position at the hip and knee, extensor angular impulse at the hip, and positive work done at the hip 3 wk after surgery followed by a partial rehabilitation at 5 wk after surgery. Power and work produced at the knee were reduced fivefold (P < 0.001) after 5 wk of rehabilitation and did not recover to pre-surgical levels. The existence of a long-lasting knee extensor torque 2 wk after injury indicated that the adaptation process to ACL deficiency is lengthy, requiring many gait cycles, and that numerous factors could be involved in learning the adaptations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament* / surgery
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / etiology
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Male
  • Orthopedics*
  • Video Recording