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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1993 Mar;(288):40-7.

Functional testing in the anterior cruciate ligament-deficient knee.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612.


Functional testing of patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) deficient knees and normal subjects during stressful activities such as running to a cut and running to a stop and during activities common to daily life, such as walking, stair climbing, and jogging, is presented. Analysis focused on the application of these tests to treatment planning and clinical evaluation. Functional testing during stressful activities indicates that some patients with ACL-deficient knees have higher than normal net hamstring moments during the early phase of these activities. These results suggest dynamic muscular substitution using the hamstrings in patients with chronic ACL-deficient knees. Patients tested during less stressful activities, such as walking and stair climbing, also demonstrated substantial differences from ACL-intact subjects. The majority of patients tended to reduce the net quadriceps moment when the knee was near full extension. Approximately 75% of the patients who were ACL-deficient developed this type of adaptation, which appears to be a subconscious method of avoiding the net anterior pull of the quadriceps mechanism when the knee is near full extension. Functional testing of the ACL-deficient knee provides meaningful information that cannot be obtained by simpler clinical tests. This information can be extremely useful in the selection and evaluation of patients with certain treatment modalities, since it seems to be directly related to some patients' ability to functionally adapt to the loss of the ACL.

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