Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess activation patterns of medial (MH) versus lateral (LH) hamstrings in female athletes who had undergone ACL reconstruction (ACLR) using a hamstrings-graft during single-limb functional testing. Methods: Eighteen athletes (1–6 years since ACLR) and 18 healthy controls were recruited from the Icelandic women’s top divisions in football, handball, and basketball. Activation of the MH and LH was monitored bilaterally using surface electromyography. Peak activation of the normalized signal was identified for two phases of the single-limb crossover (SLC) hop test and performance (distance jumped) registered. Self-reported knee symptoms and function were evaluated with the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS). A repeated measures general linear model was used for main statistical data analyses, comparing variables of interests between limbs (within-subjects factor) and between groups. Results: ACLR athletes had worse KOOS-symptoms scores (p < 0.05) than controls, while hop distance was equal. Overall, MH and LH muscle activation levels differed between the two phases of the SLC hop test (p < 0.05). Moreover, inter-limb differences in MH and LH activity were identified between groups (p < 0.05), mainly explained by greater LH than MH activation in the uninjured limb of ACLR athletes. Conclusion: One to 6 years after ACLR, female athletes performed on par with uninjured controls, but demonstrated inter-limb differences in muscle activation patterns of the hamstrings that were not evident in controls. This may be an important factor to consider during postsurgical rehabilitation in order to lower the risk of a second injury. Level of evidence: III.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014, European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA).