Assessing lower extremity coordination and coordination variability in individuals with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction during walking


Background: Despite our knowledge of several biomechanical risk factors related to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, such as decreased knee flexion, increased knee abduction, and increased hip flexion, adduction and internal rotation during walking, jogging, and landing from a jump, the incidence of ACL tears remains high. Quantifying variability in the lower extremity provides a continuous measure of joint coordination and function that may elicit an additional aspect of ACL injury mechanisms. Research question: The aim of this study was to assess joint coordination patterns and variability in individuals following ACL reconstruction (ACLR). Methods: Twenty participants with unilateral ACLR and twenty uninjured participants matched by sex and body mass index (BMI) walked over-ground at self-selected speed. Two force plates embedded in the walking platform recorded ground reaction forces (GRF), and a motion capture system collected kinematic data. Vector coding was used to describe coordination patterns and measure coordination variability in hip-knee and knee-ankle coupled motion. Results: Individuals with ACLR had greater variability in hip-knee coordination compared to their healthy counterparts for both the reconstructed and contralateral limbs. The individuals with ACLR also exhibited altered coordination patterns, one of which was characterized by constrained hip motion. Significance: These results are evidence that differences in joint coordination exist between individuals with and without ACLR, even after the former are cleared to return to sport. This new insight into coordinative function after ACLR may be useful for improving rehabilitation strategies as well as identifying those at risk of injury during return to sport testing.

Publication Title

Gait and Posture