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The relationship of the angle of immobilisation of the knee to the force applied to the extensor mechanism when partially weight-bearing


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We describe the influence of the angle of immobilisation during partial weight-bearing on the forces across the extensor mechanism of the knee. Gait analysis was performed on eight healthy male subjects with the right knee in an orthotic brace locked at 0°, 10°, 20° and 30°, with the brace unlocked and also without a brace. The ground reaction force, the angle of the knee and the net external flexion movement about the knee were measured and the extensor mechanism force was calculated.

The results showed a direct non-linear relationship between the angle of knee flexion and the extensor mechanism force. When a brace was applied, the lowest forces occurred when the brace was locked at 0°. At 30° the forces approached the failure strength of some fixation devices. We recommend that for potentially unstable injuries of the extensor mechanism, when mobilising with partial weight-bearing, the knee should be flexed at no more than 10°.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr W. Khan at 3 Lower Brook Lane, Manchester M28 2LL, UK; e-mail: wasimkhan@doctors.org.uk

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