Females have Lower Knee Strength and Vertical Ground Reaction Forces During Landing than Males Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction at the Time of Return to Sport.
Sullivan ZB, Sugarman BS, Faherty MS, et al.
Purpose: There is a high rate of second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury (ipsilateral graft or contralateral ACL) upon return-to-sport (RTS) following ACL reconstruction (ACLR). While a significant amount of epidemiological data exists demonstrating sex differences as risk factors for primary ACL injury, less is known about sex differences as potential risk factors for second ACL injury. The purpose of this study is to determine if there are sex-specific differences in potential risk factors for second ACL injury at the time of clearance for RTS.
Methods: Ten male and eight female athletes (age: 20.8 years ±6.3, height: 173.2 cm ±10.1, mass: 76.6 kg ±18.3) participated in the study following ACLR at time of RTS (mean 10.2 months). Performance in lower extremity isokinetic and isometric strength testing, static and dynamic postural stability testing, and a single leg stop-jump task was compared between the sexes.
Results: Normalized for body weight, males had significantly greater isokinetic knee flexion (141±14.1 Nm/kg vs. 78±27.4 Nm/kg, p=0.001) and extension strength (216±45.5 Nm/kg vs. 159±53.9 Nm/kg, p=0.013) as well as isometric flexion (21.1±6.87% body weight vs. 12.5±5.57% body weight, p=0.013) and extension (41.1±7.34% body weight vs. 27.3±11.0% body weight, p=0.016) strength compared to females. In the single-leg stop jump task, males had a greater maximum vertical ground reaction force during landing (332±85.5% vs. 259±27.4% body weight, p=0.027) compared to females.
Conclusions: Based on these results, there are significant differences between sexes following ACLR at the time of RTS. Lower knee flexion and extension strength may be a potential risk factor for second ACL injury among females. Alternatively, the increased maximum vertical force observed in males may be a potential risk factor of second ACL injury in males. Although these results should be interpreted with some caution, they support that rehabilitation programs in the post-ACLR population should be individualized based on the sex of the individual.
Level of Evidence: Level 3