Young athletes after ACL reconstruction with asymmetric quadriceps strength at the time of return-to-sport clearance demonstrate drop-landing asymmetries two years later.

Research paper by Matthew P MP Ithurburn, Staci S Thomas, Mark V MV Paterno, Laura C LC Schmitt

Indexed on: 24 Mar '21Published on: 24 Mar '21Published in: The Knee


Quadriceps strength asymmetry at the time of return-to-sport (RTS) after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) contributes to altered landing mechanics. However, the impact of RTS quadriceps strength on longitudinal alterations in landing mechanics, a risk factor for poor knee joint health over time, is not understood. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that young athletes with quadriceps strength asymmetry at the time of RTS clearance after ACLR would demonstrate asymmetric landing mechanics 2 years later compared to those without quadriceps strength asymmetry. We followed 57 young athletes (age at RTS = 17.6 ± 3.0 years; 77% females) with primary, unilateral ACLR for 2 years following RTS clearance. At RTS, we measured isometric quadriceps strength bilaterally and calculated limb-symmetry indices [LSI = (involved/uninvolved)×100%]. Using RTS quadriceps LSI, we divided participants into High-Quadriceps (HQ; LSI ≥ 90%) and Low-Quadriceps (LQ; LSI < 85%) groups. Two years later, we assessed landing mechanics during a drop-vertical jump (DVJ) task using three-dimensional motion analysis. We compared involved/uninvolved limb values and LSI between the HQ and LQ groups using Mann-Whitney U tests. The LQ group (n = 26) demonstrated greater asymmetry (lower LSI) during landing at 2 years post-RTS for knee flexion excursion (p = 0.016) and peak vertical ground reaction force (p = 0.006) compared to the HQ group (n = 28). There were no group differences in uninvolved or involved limb values for all variables (all p > 0.093). Young athletes after ACLR with quadriceps strength asymmetry at the time of RTS favored the uninvolved limb during DVJ landing 2 years later. These landing asymmetries may relate to long-term knee joint health after ACLR. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.