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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2006 May;36(5):298-307.

Early application of negative work via eccentric ergometry following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a case report.

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Division of Physical Therapy, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.



Case report.


To present a progressively increasing negative-work exercise program via eccentric ergometry early after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACL-R) and to suggest the potential of negative work to amplify the return of quadriceps size and strength.


The patient was a 26-year-old highly active recreational athlete who sustained an ACL tear while skiing in January 2004 and then again while skiing in February 2005. This individual underwent an arthroscopically assisted ACL-R with a double-loop semitendinosusgracilis autograft initially, then a patellar tendon autograft following his ACL graft rupture. Beginning within 3 weeks after surgery, a progressive negative-work exercise program was initiated using an eccentric ergometer. The patient completed 31 training sessions of 5 to 30 minutes in duration over a 12-week period following the ACL-R and 33 training sessions of the same frequency and duration following the ACL revision.


Following ACL-R, quadriceps volume increased 28% (involved lower extremity) and 14% (uninvolved lower extremity) during the 12-week training program. Following revision, quadriceps volume returned to similar levels at the same postoperative period as those achieved after the initial surgery (2% less on the involved side and 2% greater on the uninvolved side). Quadriceps strength, 15 weeks after ACL-R, exceeded preoperative measures by an average of 20% (involved) and 14% (uninvolved). Quadriceps strength after ACL revision exceeded all previous measures.


This case report suggests that if gradually and progressively applied, negative work via eccentric ergometry can be both safe and efficacious early after ACL-R. Eccentric exercise may mitigate the prevalent muscle size and strength deficits commonly observed after ACL-R. The results of this case suggest a need for continued research with early negative work interventions following ACL-R.

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