Dynamic knee joint stiffness during bilateral lower extremity landing 6 months after ACL reconstruction

Benjamin D. Brightwell, Michael A. Samaan, Darren Johnson, Brian Noehren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions are associated with long-term functional impairments. Improved understanding of dynamic knee joint stiffness and work may provide insights to help address these poor outcomes. Defining the relationship between knee stiffness, work and quadriceps muscle symmetry may reveal therapeutic targets. The purposes of this study were to investigate between-limb differences in knee stiffness and work during early phase landing 6-months after an ACL reconstruction. Additionally, we investigated relationships among symmetry of knee joint stiffness and work during early-phase landing and quadriceps muscle performance symmetry. Methods: Twenty-nine participants (17 M, 20.0 ± 5.3 years) were tested 6-months after ACL reconstruction. Motion capture analysis was used to assess between-limb differences in knee stiffness and work during the first 60 ms of a double-limb landing. Quadriceps peak strength and rate of torque development (RTD) were assessed with isometric dynamometry. Paired t-tests and Pearson's product moment correlations were used to determine between-limb differences of knee mechanics and correlations of symmetry respectively. Findings: Knee joint stiffness and work were significantly reduced (p < 0.01, p < 0.01) in the surgical limb (0.021 ± 0.01 Nm*(deg*kg*m)−1, −0.085 ± 0.06 J*(kg*m) −1) compared to the uninvolved limb (0.045 ± 0.01 Nm*(deg*kg*m)−1, −0.256 ± 0.10 J*(kg*m) −1). Greater knee stiffness (51 ± 22%) and work (35 ± 21%) symmetry were significantly associated with greater RTD symmetry (44.5 ± 19.4%) (r = 0.43, p = 0.02; r = 0.45, p = 0.01) but not peak torque symmetry (62.9 ± 16.1%) (r = 0.32, p = 0.10; r = 0.34, p = 0.10). Interpretation: Dynamic stiffness and energy absorption are lower in the surgical knee during landing from a jump. Therapeutic interventions that target increasing quadriceps RTD may help optimize dynamic stability and energy absorption during landing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Knee Joint
  • Patellar Tendon
  • Quadriceps Rate of Torque Development
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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