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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)


ACL injured patients show variability in the ability to perform functional activities (Button et al., 2006). It is unknown whether this is due to differences in physical capability or whether fear of re-injury plays a role. Fear of re-injury is not commonly addressed in rehabilitation. This study aimed to investigate whether fear of re-injury impacts rehabilitation of ACL injured patients.

An initial group of five ACL reconstructed participants (ACLR, age: 30±11 years, weight: 815±115 N, height: 1.74±0.07 m, all male), five ACL deficient participants (ACLD, age: 31±12 years, weight: 833±227 N, height: 1.80±0.11 m, four male and one female), and five healthy controls (age: 30±3 years, weight: 704±126 N, height: 1.70±0.09 m, three male and two female) were compared. Fear of re-injury was assessed using the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (Kvist, 2004). Quadriceps strength was measured on a Biodex dynamometer. Functional activity was assessed by a single legged maximum distance hop (on the injured leg for ACL patients). Motion analysis was performed with a VICON system, and a Kistler force plate. Hop distance was calculated using the ankle position. The peak knee extension moment during landing, and the knee angle at this peak moment were calculated in VICON Nexus.

The ACLD group scored worse on the Tampa scale for Kinesiophobia than the ACLR group (32±4 and 26±4). The ACLD patients did not hop as far as the ACLR and control groups (1.0±0.3, 1.3±0.1 and 1.4±0.3 m). The peak knee extension moments during landing were lowest in the ACLD group (263±159 Nm), slightly higher in the control group (354±122 Nm) and highest in the ACLR group (490±222 Nm), while knee flexion angles at these moments were similar (ACLD: 28±11, ACLR: 33±7 and control: 36±13 degrees). The ACLD group had weaker quadriceps than the control group, while the ACLR group was stronger (143±44 Nm, 152±42, and 167±50 Nm respectively).

Fear of re-injury and decreased quadriceps strength potentially both impact on the functional performance of ACL injured patients. Rehabilitation of ACL injured patients could therefore be improved by addressing strength and fear of re-injury. Future research with more participants will further clarify this.