Clinical predictors of knee mechanics at return to sport after ACL reconstruction

Paul W. Kline, Darren L. Johnson, Mary Lloyd Ireland, Brian Noehren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose Despite significant rehabilitation, many athletes experience protracted weakness and faulty mechanics after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). Clinical tests performed early in rehabilitation, which predict knee mechanics at return-to-sport, are virtually unknown and critically needed to guide clinical decision making. The purpose of this study is to determine if quadriceps strength, Y balance anterior (YB-A) reach distance, and single-leg step-down test performance (SLSD) conducted 3 months post-ACLR are predictive of knee flexion excursion (KFLEX) and knee extensor moment (KEM) during running 6 months post-ACLR. Methods Thirty (16 females) subjects were collected 3 and 6 months post-ACLR. Age, 21.3 ± 7.6 yr; mass, 69.85 ± 11.4 kg; height, 1.73 ± 0.09 m. At 3 months post-ACLR, subjects performed isometric quadriceps strength testing, YB-A, and SLSD assessments. At 6 months post-ACLR, subjects underwent three-dimensional motion analysis while running on an instrumented treadmill. Pearson correlation coefficients and stepwise multiple regression were used to assess the relationships of 3-month and 6-month variables. Results Quadriceps strength (r = 0.493, P < 0.01), YB-A (r = 0.394, P = 0.03), and SLSD (r = 0.648, P < 0.01) were significantly correlated to KFLEX. Quadriceps strength (0.505, P < 0.01) and SLSD (.541, P < 0.01) were significantly correlated with KEM, whereas YB-A (.276, P = 0.06) was not. SLSD and quadriceps strength were predictive of KEM (adj R 2, 0.36; P = 0.001) whereas only SLSD was predictive of KFLEX (adj R 2, 0.40; P < 0.001). Conclusions After ACLR, better performance in SLSD and quadriceps strength 3 months postsurgery is predictive of improved sagittal plane knee mechanics during running 6 months postsurgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-795
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by the American College of Sports Medicine.



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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