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J Orthop Res. 2006 Dec;24(12):2187-200.

Determination of the abduction-adduction axis of rotation at the human knee: helical axis representation.

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Sensory and Motor Performance Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


This study used a finite helical axes representation to derive the axis of rotation of the human knee in the frontal plane for the neutral flexion/extension posture during resting and no load-bearing conditions. The three-dimensional finite helical axis pathway of the tibia relative to the femur was computed by passively adducting/abducting the lower limb via a servomotor system. Knee joint movements as a result of the positional perturbations were captured with an active marker kinematic tracking system. Contrary to traditional assumptions used in studies conducted under a similar experimental paradigm, our results indicated that the knee joint center, defined as the intercept point between the finite helical axis and the mid-coronal plane of the distal femur, was located within the femoral notch for a wide range of abduction and adduction angles (6 degrees abduction to 6 degrees adduction angles). Our data also indicated that at the neutral posture of the knee, the helical axes directions change as a function of the abduction/adduction perturbation angle. These findings are not only essential to error minimization during joint moment calculations, but can also facilitate new biomechanical interpretations of, for example, the functional role of the quadriceps and patellofemoral joint mechanics to overall knee stability in the medial-lateral direction.

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