To clarify the mechanisms of compensation in subjects with anterior cruciate ligament deficiency (ACL-D), we examined proprioception, quadriceps strength, somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and muscle responses during gait in varied combinations of speed and incline. Seventeen subjects with ACL-D were grouped by functional level and report of giving way. Seven subjects without ACL-D served as a control sample for muscle response measures. ACL-D subjects with quadriceps weakness experienced giving way and could not resume sport activities. Those without weakness fell into one of two groups: (1) copers, who had full return to previous activity and no giving way despite proprioceptive loss and altered SEPs, and (2) adapters, who were unable to return to previous activity level and experienced giving way despite neither proprioceptive loss or altered SEPs. The unique muscle pattern in copers during inclined fast walking included larger and earlier hamstring activation. These results suggest that in individuals with ACL-D without a strength deficit, altered SEPs and altered neuromuscular patterns are the factors that enable resumption of pre-injury functional levels. Loss of proprioception may drive the central changes, which in turn drives the development of altered muscle patterns.
Courtney C, Rine RM, Kroll P (2005) Central somatosensory changes and altered muscle synergies in subjects with anterior cruciate ligament deficiency. Gait Posture 22:69-74.