Gait mechanics and tibiofemoral loading in men of the ACL‐SPORTS randomized control trialJacob J. Capin Ashutosh Khandha Ryan Zarzycki Amelia J.H. Arundale Melissa L. Ziegler Kurt Manal Thomas S. Buchanan Lynn Snyder‐Mackler
The risk for post‐traumatic osteoarthritis is elevated after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR), and may be especially high among individuals with aberrant walking mechanics, such as medial tibiofemoral joint underloading 6 months postoperatively. Rehabilitation training programs have been proposed as one strategy to address aberrant gait mechanics. We developed the anterior cruciate ligament specialized post‐operative return‐to‐sports (ACL‐SPORTS) randomized control trial to test the effect of 10 post‐operative training sessions consisting of strength, agility, plyometric, and secondary prevention exercises (SAPP) or SAPP plus perturbation (SAPP + PERT) training on gait mechanics after ACLR. A total of 40 male athletes (age 23 ± 7 years) after primary ACLR were randomized to SAPP or SAPP + PERT training and tested at three distinct, post‐operative time points: 1) after impairment resolution (Pre‐training); 2) following 10 training sessions (Post‐training); and 3) 2 years after ACLR. Knee kinematic and kinetic variables as well as muscle and joint contact forces were calculated via inverse dynamics and a validated electromyography‐informed musculoskeletal model. There were no significant improvements from Pre‐training to Post‐training in either intervention group. Smaller peak knee flexion angles, extension moments, extensor muscle forces, medial compartment contact forces, and tibiofemoral contact forces were present across group and time, however the magnitude of interlimb differences were generally smaller and likely not meaningful 2 years postoperatively. Neither SAPP nor SAPP + PERT training appears effective at altering gait mechanics in men in the short‐term; however, meaningful gait asymmetries mostly resolved between post‐training and 2 years after ACLR regardless of intervention group.