Factors explaining chronic knee extensor strength deficits after ACL reconstruction.
ABSTRACT: Persistent quadriceps muscle weakness is common after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. The mechanisms underlying these chronic strength deficits are not clear. This study examined quadriceps strength in people 2-15 years post-ACL reconstruction and tested the hypothesis that chronic quadriceps weakness is related to levels of voluntary quadriceps muscle activation, antagonistic hamstrings moment, and peripheral changes in muscle. Knee extensor strength and activation were evaluated in 15 ACL reconstructed and 15 matched uninjured control subjects using an interpolated triplet technique. Electrically evoked contractile properties were used to evaluate peripheral adaptations in the quadriceps muscle. Antagonistic hamstrings moments were predicted using a practical mathematical model. Knee extensor strength and evoked torque at rest were significantly lower in the reconstructed legs (p??0.05). Regression analyses indicated that side-to-side differences in evoked torque at rest explained 71% of the knee extensor strength differences by side (p??0.05). Chronic quadriceps weakness in this sample was primarily related to peripheral changes in the quadriceps muscle, not to levels of voluntary activation or antagonistic hamstrings activity.
Project description:We compared the effectiveness of a home-based neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) program applied to the quadriceps of the nonoperative side against sham-NMES as a complement to standard rehabilitation on knee extensor neuromuscular function in patients following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Twenty-four patients completed the 6 week NMES (<i>n</i> = 12) and sham-NMES (<i>n</i> = 12) post-operative interventions and were tested at different time points for neuromuscular function and self-reported knee function. Isometric, concentric, and eccentric strength deficits (muscle weakness) increased significantly from pre-surgery to 24 weeks post-surgery in the sham-NMES group (<i>p</i> < 0.05), while no significant changes were observed in the NMES group. On the stimulated (nonoperative) side, quadriceps voluntary activation and muscle thickness were respectively maintained (<i>p</i> > 0.05) and increased (<i>p</i> < 0.001) as a result of the NMES intervention, contrary to sham-NMES. Self-reported knee function improved progressively during the post-operative phase (<i>p</i> < 0.05), with no difference between the two groups. Compared to a sham-NMES intervention, a 6 week home-based NMES program applied to the quadriceps of the nonoperative side early after ACL reconstruction prevented the occurrence of knee extensor muscle weakness 6 months after surgery. We conclude that nonoperative-side NMES may help counteract muscle weakness after ACL reconstruction.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Persistent quadriceps weakness and activation failure are common in individuals with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. A growing body of evidence indicates that this chronic quadriceps dysfunction could be partly mediated due to reduced corticospinal excitability. However, current rehabilitation approaches do not directly target corticospinal deficits, which may be critical for restoring optimal clinical outcomes after the surgery. This case study tested the feasibility of operant conditioning of torque responses evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to improve quadriceps function after ACL reconstruction. HYPOTHESIS:Operant conditioning of motor evoked torque responses would improve quadriceps strength, voluntary activation, and corticospinal excitability. STUDY DESIGN:Case study and research report. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Level 5. METHODS:A 24-year-old male with an ACL reconstruction (6 months postsurgery) trained for 20 sessions (2-3 times per week for 8 weeks) to increase his TMS-induced motor evoked torque response (MEP torque) of the quadriceps muscles using operant conditioning principles. Knee extensor strength, voluntary quadriceps muscle activation, and quadriceps corticospinal excitability were evaluated at 3 time points: preintervention (pre), 4 weeks (mid), and immediately after the intervention (post). RESULTS:The participant was able to successfully condition (ie, increase) the quadriceps MEP torque after 1 training session, and the conditioned MEP torque gradually increased over the course of 20 training sessions to reach about 500% of the initial value at the end of training. The participant's control MEP torque values and corticospinal excitability, which were measured outside of the conditioning paradigm, also increased with training. These changes were paralleled by improvements in knee extensor strength and voluntary quadriceps muscle activation. CONCLUSION:This study shows that operant conditioning of MEP torque is a feasible approach to improving quadriceps corticospinal excitability and quadriceps function after ACL reconstruction and encourages further testing in a larger cohort of ACL-reconstructed individuals. CLINICAL RELEVANCE:Operant conditioning may serve as a potential therapeutic adjuvant for ACL rehabilitation.
Project description:<h4>Context</h4>Persistent muscle weakness after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction may be due to underlying activation failure and arthrogenic muscle inhibition (AMI). Knee-joint cryotherapy has been shown to improve quadriceps function transiently in those with AMI, thereby providing an opportunity to improve quadriceps muscle activation and strength in patients with a reconstructed ACL.<h4>Objective</h4>To compare quadriceps muscle function in patients with a reconstructed ACL who completed a 2-week intervention including daily cryotherapy (ice bag), daily exercises, or both.<h4>Design</h4>Cross-sectional study.<h4>Setting</h4>Laboratory.<h4>Patients or other participants</h4>A total of 30 patients with reconstructed ACLs who were at least 6 months post-index surgery and had measurable quadriceps AMI.<h4>Intervention(s)</h4>The patients attended 4 supervised visits over a 2-week period. They were randomly assigned to receive 20 minutes of knee-joint cryotherapy, 1 hour of therapeutic rehabilitation exercises, or cryotherapy followed by exercises.<h4>Main outcome measure(s)</h4>We measured quadriceps Hoffmann reflex, normalized maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque, central activation ratio using the superimposed-burst technique, and patient-reported outcomes before and after the intervention period.<h4>Results</h4>After the 2-week intervention period, patients who performed rehabilitation exercises immediately after cryotherapy had higher normalized maximal voluntary isometric contraction torques (P = .002, Cohen d effect size = 1.4) compared with those who received cryotherapy alone (P = .16, d = 0.58) or performed exercise alone (P = .16, d = 0.30).<h4>Conclusions</h4>After ACL reconstruction, patients with AMI who performed rehabilitation exercises immediately after cryotherapy experienced greater strength gains than those who performed cryotherapy or exercises alone.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Thigh muscle weakness after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) can persist after returning to activity. While resistance training can improve muscle function, "nonfunctional" training methods are not optimal for inducing transfer of benefits to activities such as walking. Here, we tested the feasibility of a novel functional resistance training (FRT) approach to restore strength and function in an individual with ACLR.<h4>Hypothesis</h4>FRT would improve knee strength and function after ACLR.<h4>Study design</h4>Case report.<h4>Level of evidence</h4>Level 5.<h4>Methods</h4>A 15-year-old male patient volunteered for an 8-week intervention where he performed 30 minutes of treadmill walking, 3 times per week, while wearing a custom-designed knee brace that provided resistance to the thigh muscles of his ACLR leg. Thigh strength, gait mechanics, and corticospinal and spinal excitability were assessed before and immediately after the 8-week intervention. Voluntary muscle activation was evaluated immediately after the intervention.<h4>Results</h4>Knee extensor and flexor strength increased in the ACLR leg from pre- to posttraining (130 to 225 N·m [+74%] and 44 to 88 N·m [+99%], respectively) and increases in between-limb extensor and flexor strength symmetry (45% to 92% [+74%] and 47% to 72% [+65%], respectively) were also noted. After the intervention, voluntary muscle activation in the ACLR leg was 72%, compared with the non-ACLR leg at 75%. Knee angle and moment during late stance phase decreased (ie, improved) in the ACLR leg and appeared more similar to the non-ACLR leg after FRT training (18° to 14° [-23.4] and 0.07 to -0.02 N·m·kg<sup>-1</sup>·m<sup>-1</sup> [-122.8%], respectively). Corticospinal and spinal excitability in the ACLR leg decreased (3511 to 2511 [-28.5%] and 0.42 to 0.24 [-43.7%], respectively) from pre- to posttraining.<h4>Conclusion</h4>A full 8 weeks of FRT that targeted both quadriceps and hamstring muscles lead to improvements in strength and gait, suggesting that FRT may constitute a promising and practical alternative to traditional methods of resistance training.<h4>Clinical relevance</h4>FRT may serve as a viable approach to improve knee strength and function after ACL reconstruction.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sufficient lower extremity muscle strength is necessary for performing functional tasks, and individuals with knee osteoarthritis demonstrate thigh muscle weakness compared to controls. It has been suggested that lower muscle strength is associated with a variety of clinical features including pain, mobility, and functional performance, yet these relationships have not been fully explored in patients with symptomatic meniscal tear in addition to knee osteoarthritis. Our purpose was to evaluate the associations of quadriceps and hamstrings muscle strength with structural damage and clinical features in individuals with knee osteoarthritis and symptomatic meniscal tear. METHODS:We performed a cross-sectional study using baseline data from the Meniscal Tear in Osteoarthritis Research (MeTeOR) trial. We assessed structural damage using Kellgren-Lawrence grade and the magnetic resonance imaging osteoarthritis knee score (MOAKS) for cartilage damage. We used the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcomes Score (KOOS) to evaluate pain, symptoms, and activities of daily living (ADL), and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test to assess mobility. We assessed quadriceps and hamstrings strength using a hand-held dynamometer and classified each into quartiles (Q). We used Chi square tests to evaluate the association between strength and structural damage; and separate analysis of covariance models to establish the association between pain, symptoms, ADL and mobility with strength, after adjusting for demographic characteristics (age, sex and BMI) and structural damage. RESULTS:Two hundred fifty two participants were evaluated. For quadriceps strength, subjects in the strongest quartile scored 14 and 13 points higher on the KOOS Pain and ADL subscales, respectively, and completed the TUG two seconds faster than subjects in the weakest quartile. For hamstrings strength, subjects in the strongest quartile scored 13 and 14 points higher on the KOOS pain and ADL subscales, respectively, and completed the TUG two seconds faster than subjects in the weakest quartile. Strength was not associated with structural damage. CONCLUSIONS:Greater quadriceps and hamstrings muscle strength was associated with less pain, less difficulty completing activities of daily living, and better mobility. These relationships should be evaluated longitudinally.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, using hamstring auto-graft is a common surgical procedure, which often leads to persistent hamstring muscle-strength deficiency and reduced function. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial (RCT) is to investigate the effect of a combined, progressive, strength and neuromuscular exercise intervention on knee muscle strength, functional capacity and hamstring muscle-tendon morphology in ACL-reconstructed patients with persistent hamstring muscle-strength deficiency compared with controls. METHODS/DESIGN:The study is designed as a multicenter, parallel-group RCT with balanced randomization (1:1) and blinded outcome assessments (level of evidence: II) and will be reported in accordance with the CONSORT Statement. Fifty ACL-reconstructed patients (hamstring auto-graft) with persistent limb-to-limb knee-flexor muscle-strength asymmetry at 12-24 months' post surgery, will be recruited through outpatient clinics and advertisements. Patients will be randomized to a 12-week progressive, strength and neuromuscular exercise group (SNG) with supervised training twice weekly or a control intervention (CON) consisting of a home-based, low-intensity exercise program. Outcome measures include between-group change in maximal isometric knee-flexor strength (primary outcome) and knee-extensor muscle strength, hamstring-to-quadriceps strength ratios of the leg that has been operated on and Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) (secondary outcomes). In addition, several explorative outcomes will be investigated: The International Knee Documentation Committee Subjective Knee Form (IKDC), the Tegner Activity Score, rate of force development (RFD) for the knee flexors and extensors, tendon regeneration and potential muscle hypertrophy at graft harvest site evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), postural control, kinetic/kinematic gait characteristics and knee-related functional capacity. DISCUSSION:This RCT is designed to investigate the effect of combined, progressive-resistance and neuromuscular exercises on knee-flexor/extensor strength, in the late rehabilitation phase following ACL reconstruction. Reduced hamstring strength represents a potential risk factor for secondary ACL rupture and accelerated progression of osteoarthritis. If deemed effective, the intervention paradigm introduced in this study may help to improve current treatment strategies in ACL-reconstructed patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov, ID: NCT02939677 (recruiting). Registered on 20 October 2016.
Project description:Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are one of the most common knee pathologies sustained during athletic participation and are characterised by long convalescence periods and associated financial burden. Muscles have the ability to increase or decrease the mechanical loads on the ACL, and thus are viable targets for preventative interventions. However, the relationship between muscle forces and ACL loading has been investigated by many different studies, often with differing methods and conclusions. Subsequently, this review aimed to summarise the evidence of the relationship between muscle force and ACL loading. A range of studies were found that investigated muscle and ACL loading during controlled knee flexion, as well as a range of weightbearing tasks such as walking, lunging, sidestep cutting, landing and jumping. The quadriceps and the gastrocnemius were found to increase load on the ACL by inducing anterior shear forces at the tibia, particularly when the knee is extended. The hamstrings and soleus appeared to unload the ACL by generating posterior tibial shear force; however, for the hamstrings, this effect was contingent on the knee being flexed greater than ~ 20° to 30°. The gluteus medius was consistently shown to oppose the knee valgus moment (thus unloading the ACL) to a magnitude greater than any other muscle. Very little evidence was found for other muscle groups with respect to their contribution to the loading or unloading of the ACL. It is recommended that interventions aiming to reduce the risk of ACL injury consider specifically targeting the function of the hamstrings, soleus and gluteus medius.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In the early phase after a total knee arthroplasty (TKA), patients experience multi-level weakness in the operated leg, which is caused primarily by reduced central nervous system (CNS) activation failure of the muscles - especially the knee extensors (quadriceps muscle). Whether similar levels of neuromuscular activity of the muscles in the operated leg, elicited during strength training exercises in machines, can be reached during strength training exercises in more simple forms is unknown. Many clinicians are faced with the problem of not having strength training equipment at their institution or having to prescribe simple strength training exercises for home-based training. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine which strength training exercises that activated the muscles in the operated leg the most after TKA. The hypothesis was that strength training exercises performed in machines would elicit higher levels of voluntary peak quadriceps and hamstring muscle activity than strength training exercises performed in more simple forms, using elastic bands or the patients' own body weight. METHODS:A cross-sectional electromyographic study investigated voluntary peak muscle activity in the operated leg during 6 different strength training exercises. Twenty-four patients, who received a TKA 4 to 8?weeks earlier, performed the exercises in a randomized order, using a pre-determined loading of 10 RM (repetition maximum). Voluntary peak muscle activity (%EMGmax) was calculated for the quadriceps and hamstring muscles for each exercise. RESULTS:Knee extensions with elastic band showed significantly higher voluntary peak quadriceps muscle activity than knee extensions in machine (93.3 vs. 74.9; mean difference, 18.3 %EMGmax [95% confidence interval (CI), 11.7 to 24.9]; P?<?0.0001). Similarly, one-legged squat (and sit to stand) elicited higher voluntary peak quadriceps muscle activity than leg press in machine (86.7 vs. 66.8; mean difference, 19.9 %EMGmax [95% CI, 14.8 to 25.0]; P?<?0.0001). CONCLUSIONS:Strength training exercises in more simple forms elicited higher voluntary peak quadriceps muscle activity than strength training exercises in machines early after TKA. Consequently, simple home-based strength training exercises using e.g. elastic bands or the patients' own bodyweight should be considered to alleviate muscle strength losses early after TKA. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01708980 .
Project description:Impaired muscle regeneration has repeatedly been described after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACL-R). The results of recent studies provided some evidence for negative alterations in knee extensor muscles after ACL-R causing persisting strength deficits in spite of the regain of muscle mass. Accordingly, we observed that 12 weeks of concentric/eccentric quadriceps strength training with eccentric overload (CON/ECC+) induced a significantly greater hypertrophy of the atrophied quadriceps muscle after ACL-R than conventional concentric/eccentric quadriceps strength training (CON/ECC). However, strength deficits persisted and there was an unexpected increase in the proportion of slow type I fibers instead of the expected shift towards a faster muscle phenotype after CON/ECC+. In order to shed further light on muscle recovery after ACL-R, the steady-state levels of 84 marker mRNAs were analyzed in biopsies obtained from the vastus lateralis muscle of 31 subjects before and after 12 weeks of CON/ECC+ (n = 18) or CON/ECC strength training (n = 13) during rehabilitation after ACL-R using a custom RT2 Profiler PCR array. Significant (p < 0.05) changes were detected in the expression of 26 mRNAs, several of them involved in muscle wasting/atrophy. A different pattern with regard to the strength training mode was observed for 16 mRNAs, indicating an enhanced hypertrophic stimulus, mechanical sensing or fast contractility after CON/ECC+. The effects of the type of autograft (quadriceps, QUAD, n = 19, or semitendinosus tendon, SEMI, n = 12) were reflected in the lower expression of 6 mRNAs involved in skeletal muscle hypertrophy or contractility in QUAD. In conclusion, the greater hypertrophic stimulus and mechanical stress induced by CON/ECC+ and a beginning shift towards a faster muscle phenotype after CON/ECC+ might be indicated by significant gene expression changes as well as still ongoing muscle wasting processes and a negative impact of QUAD autograft.
Project description:A multifactorial combination of predictors may increase anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury risk in athletes. The objective of this twin study was to examine these risk factors to identify commonalities in risk factors that predisposed female fraternal twins to ACL injury.Female twins in high-risk sports were prospectively measured prior to an injury for neuromuscular control using three-dimensional motion analysis during landing, hamstrings and quadriceps muscular strength on a dynamometer and joint laxity using a modified Beighton-Horan index and a Compu-KT arthrometer. Intraoperative measures of femoral intercondylar notch width were recorded during ACL reconstruction.Abduction angles were increased at one knee in both of the twin sister athletes relative to uninjured controls at initial contact and at maximum displacement during landing. The twin female athletes that went on to ACL injury also demonstrated decreased peak knee flexion motion at both knees than uninjured females during landing. The twin athletes also had increased joint laxity and decreased hamstrings to quadriceps (H/Q) torque ratios compared to controls. Femoral intercondylar notch widths were also below the control mean in the twin siblings.Prescreened mature female twins that subsequently experienced ACL injury demonstrated multiple potential risk factors including: increased knee abduction angles, decreased knee flexion angles, increased general joint laxity, decreased H/Q ratios and femoral intercondylar notch width.