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Gait Mechanics Depend Upon Quadriceps Central Activation Ratio in an Anterior Knee Pain Cohort

Gait Mechanics Depend Upon Quadriceps Central Activation Ratio in an Anterior Knee Pain Cohort Son SJ*, Kim HS†, Wiseman B‡, Seeley MK*, Hopkins JT*: *Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, †West Chester University, West Chester, PA, ‡West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Context: Quadriceps deficits are often present in an anterior knee pain (AKP) population. However, common self-reported classification tools including Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Kujala Anterior Knee Pain (KAKP), Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (TSK), Tegner Activity Level (TAL) scores, and/or other subject inclusion criteria may not be sensitive enough to identify specific movement characteristics in patients with AKP. Quadriceps central activation ratio (CAR) may help to discriminate movement characteristics in patients with AKP. Objective: To examine gait mechanics between two subdivisions of AKP patients, separated by quadriceps function (CAR < 0.95 and CAR > 0.95). AKP patients were defined by VAS, KAKP, TSK, and TAL scores. Design: Cohort. Setting: Controlled laboratory. Patients or Other Participants: 30 (M=16, F=14; 22.3±3 yrs, 175±9 cm, 72.5±14 kg) AKP patients participated: 15 Quadriceps Deficit (QD: CAR = 0.91±0.04, VAS = 3.87±1.3, KAKP = 82.9±6.6, TSK = 37.9±4.7, TAL = 6.3±1.2) and 15 Quadriceps Functional (QF: CAR = 0.97±0.01, VAS = 3.93±0.7, KAKP = 79.3±7.9, TSK = 36.9±5.2, TAL = 6.8±1.4). Interventions: Subjects performed three quadriceps maximum voluntary contractions (MVC) for 3 sec on a Biodex dynamometer (100 Hz). When MVC torque plateaued 1.5-2 sec later, a superimposed burst was transmitted to two electrodes placed on their quadriceps to measure CAR. Two successful trials were averaged for data analysis. Subjects performed five gait trials at a self-selected walking speed. Gait data were collected using high-speed video (240 Hz) and a force plate (1200 Hz). A functional analysis was used to detect mean between-group differences in gait mechanics during the entire stance phase (0-17% = loading response, 18-50% = mid-stance, 51-83% = terminal stance, and 84-100% = pre-swing). This analysis allowed us to compare variables as polynomial functions rather than discrete values. If 95% confidence intervals did not overlap zero, significant differences existed between groups (p < 0.05). Main Outcome Measures: Sagittal-plane knee joint angle (˚), internal knee joint torque (N∙m), and vertical ground reaction force (VGRF; N/kg). Results: Relative to QF patients, QD patients demonstrated (i) decreased knee flexion angle at 4-90% of stance, (ii) reduced internal knee extension torque at 14-32% of stance, and (iii) reduced VGRF at 19-37% of stance and increased VGRF at 46-70% of stance (p < 0.05). Conclusions: The present data suggest that relative to QF patients, QD patients adopt quadriceps weakness gait mechanics that have been reported in individuals with knee osteoarthritis, ACL reconstruction, and effused knee joints. These alterations may create long-term compensatory gait patterns at the knee and adjacent ankle and hip joints, which may lead to mechanical and biological changes in knee articular cartilage. Future research is needed to examine a potential relationship between these gait alterations and articular cartilage health over the long-term.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait