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Does a torn anterior cruciate ligament lead to change in the central nervous drive of the knee extensors?

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Hospital of UmeĆ„, Sweden.


Integrated surface electromyograms of the three superficial parts of the quadriceps and isokinetic knee extensor maximum torque and power production were recorded simultaneously and at different angular velocities in both legs in 11 male subjects with unilateral tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. The cross-sectional area (CSA) of the thigh and its muscular components were measured by computerized tomography. The principal findings were a small but significant decrease in quadriceps CSA on the affected side; a decreased active, but not passive, range of movement; decreased mechanical output, whether or not corrected for differences in CSA; and decreased electromyographic activity--particularly in rectus femoris. These findings suggest that the reason for the decreased maximum and total knee extensor performance seen in these patients is a change in knee joint receptor afferent inflow.

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