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J Biomech. 2013 Aug 9;46(12):2045-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.05.027. Epub 2013 Jun 24.

Load-dependent variations in knee kinematics measured with dynamic MRI.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706-1572, United States.


Subtle changes in knee kinematics may substantially alter cartilage contact patterns and moment generating capacities of soft tissues. The objective of this study was to use dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the influence of the timing of quadriceps loading on in vivo tibiofemoral and patellofemoral kinematics. We tested the hypothesis that load-dependent changes in knee kinematics would alter both the finite helical axis of the tibiofemoral joint and the moment arm of the patellar tendon. Eight healthy young adults were positioned supine in a MRI-compatible device that could impose either elastic or inertial loads on the lower leg in response to cyclic knee flexion-extension. The elastic loading condition induced concentric quadriceps contractions with knee extension, while an inertial loading condition induced eccentric quadriceps contractions with knee flexion. Peak internal knee extension moments ranged from 23 to 33 N m, which is comparable to loadings seen in normal walking. We found that anterior tibia translation, superior patella glide, and anterior patella translation were reduced by an average of 5.1, 5.7 and 2.9 mm when quadriceps loading coincided with knee flexion rather than knee extension. These kinematic variations induced a distal shift in the finite helical axis of the tibiofemoral joint and a reduction in the patellar tendon moment arm. We conclude that it may be important to consider such load-dependent changes in knee kinematics when using models to ascertain soft tissue and cartilage loading during functional tasks such as gait.


Cine-phase contrast imaging; Eccentric contraction; Finite helical axis; Moment arm; Musculoskeletal models; Patellar tendon

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