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J Biomech. 2001 Sep;34(9):1107-15.

Dynamic and static control of the human knee joint in abduction-adduction.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Sensory Motor Performance Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 E. Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


It is unclear whether humans can voluntarily control dynamic and static properties in knee abduction-adduction, which may be important in performing functional tasks and preventing injuries, whether the main load is about the abduction axis or not. A joint-driving device was used to perturb the knee in abduction-adduction at full knee extension under both passive (muscle relaxed) and active (muscle contracted in abduction or adduction) conditions. Dynamic control properties in knee abduction-adduction were characterized by joint stiffness, viscosity, and limb inertia, and quasi-static knee torque-angle relationship was characterized by knee abduction-adduction laxity and quasi-static stiffness (at a 20Nm moment). It was found that the subjects were capable of generating net abduction and adduction moment through differential co-contraction of muscles crossing the medial and lateral sides of the knee, which helped to reduce the abduction-adduction joint laxity (p< or =0.01) and increase stiffness (p<0.027) and viscous damping. Knee abduction laxity was significantly lower than adduction laxity (p=0.043) and the quasi-static abduction stiffness was significantly higher than adduction stiffness (p<0.001). The knee joint showed significantly higher stiffness and viscosity in abduction-adduction than their counterparts in knee flexion-extension at comparable levels of joint torque (p<0.05). Similar to dynamic flexion-extension properties, the system damping ratio remained constant over different levels of contraction, indicating simplified control tasks for the central nervous system; while the natural undamped frequency increased considerably with abduction-adduction muscle contraction, presumably making the knee a quicker system during strenuous tasks involving strong muscle contraction.

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