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Neuromuscular Function of the Knee Joint Following Knee njuries: Does It Ever Get Back to Normal? A Systematic Review with Meta Analyses

Overview

Knee injury is an independent risk factor for the development of knee osteoarthritis (OA) in young adults. The prevalence of post-traumatic OA (PTOA) can be as high as 80% at 10+years after the initial injury, with 4–6 times higher odds compared to a non-injured knee. PTOA mainly affects a younger and more active population when compared to non-traumatic OA, resulting in longer years lived with disability [5], and surgical interventions 7–9 years earlier in life. Therefore, prevention strategies for PTOA development require particular attention.

There is also evidence of bilateral neuromuscular changes following unilateral knee injury, suggesting a requirement for healthy control groups instead of using the contralateral ‘healthy leg’ for an unbiased evaluation of post-traumatic neuromuscular alterations. Therefore, this study aimed to determine how neuromuscular function of the knee joint changes over time following knee injuries involving ligament, meniscus or cartilage compared to healthy controls.

Neuromuscular deficits persist for years post-injury/surgery, though most evidence is from ACL injured populations. Muscle strength deficits are accompanied by neural alterations and changes in control and timing of muscle force, but more studies are needed to fill the evidence gaps we have identified. Better characterisation and therapeutic strategies addressing these deficits could improve rehabilitation outcomes, and potentially prevent PTOA.

Authors
Beyza Tayfur, Chedsada Charuphongsa, Dylan Morrissey, Stuart Charles Miller

Journal
Sports Medicine 

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