One-leg rise performance and associated knee kinematics in ACL-deficient and ACL-reconstructed persons 23  years post-injury

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Background Research indicates reduced knee function and stability decades after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Assessment requires reliable functional tests that discriminate such outcomes from asymptomatic knees, while providing suitable loading for different populations. The One-leg rise (OLR) test is common in clinics and research but lacks scientific evidence for its implementation. Our cross-sectional study compared performance including knee kinematics of the OLR between ACL-injured persons in the very long term to controls and between legs within these groups, and assessed the within-session reliability of the kinematics.

Methods Seventy ACL-injured individuals (mean age 46.9 ± 5.4 years) treated with either reconstructive surgery and physiotherapy (ACLR; n = 33) or physiotherapy alone (ACLPT; n = 37), on average 23 years post-injury, and 33 age- and sex-matched controls (CTRL) attempted the OLR. Participants completed as many repetitions as possible to a maximum of 50 while recorded by motion capture. We compared between all groups and between legs within groups for total repetitions and decomposed the OLR into movement phases to compare phase completion times, maximum and range of knee abduction and adduction angles, and mediolateral knee control in up to 10 repetitions per participant.

Results ACLPT performed significantly fewer OLR repetitions with their injured leg compared to the CTRL non-dominant leg (medians 15 and 32, respectively) and showed significantly greater knee abduction than ACLR and CTRL (average 2.56°-3.69° depending on phase and leg). Distribution of repetitions differed between groups, revealing 59% of ACLPT unable to complete more than 20 repetitions on their injured leg compared to 33% ACLR and 36% CTRL for their injured and non-dominant leg, respectively. Within-session reliability of all kinematic variables for all groups and legs was high (ICC 3,10 0.97–1.00, 95% CI 0.95–1.00, SEM 0.93–1.95°).

Conclusions Negative outcomes of OLR performance, particularly among ACLPT, confirm the need to address aberrant knee function and stability even decades post-ACL injury. Knee kinematics derived from the OLR were reliable for asymptomatic and ACL-injured knees. Development of the OLR protocol and analysis methods may improve its discriminative ability in identifying reduced knee function and stability among a range of clinical populations.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2019 Oct 25;20(1):476