Background: Females are at an increased risk of sustaining noncontact knee ligament injuries as compared with their male counterparts. The kinetics that load the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are still under dispute in the literature. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to determine whether there are differences in knee kinetics between the sexes that lead to greater ACL strain in females when similar external loads are applied during a simulated drop vertical jump landing task. It was hypothesized that female limbs would demonstrate significant differences in knee abduction moment that predispose females to ACL injury when compared with males. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Motion analysis data of 67 athletes who performed a drop vertical jump were collected. The kinematic and kinetic data were used to categorize tertiles of relative risk, and these values were input into a cadaveric impact simulator to assess ligamentous loads during the simulated landing task. Uni- and multiaxial load cells and differential variable reluctance transducer strain sensors were utilized to collect kinetic data and maximum ACL strain for analysis. Conditions of external loads applied to the cadaveric limbs were systematically varied and randomized. Data were analyzed with 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance and the Fisher exact test. Results: Five kinetic parameters were evaluated. Of the 5 kinetic variables, only knee abduction moment (KAM) demonstrated significant differences in females as compared with males (F1,136 = 4.398, P =.038). When normalized to height and weight, this difference between males and females increased in significance (F1,136 = 7.155, P =.008). Compared with males, females exhibited a 10.3-N·m increased knee abduction torque at 66 milliseconds postimpact and a 22.3-N·m increased abduction torque at 100 milliseconds postimpact. For loading condition, the condition of “maximum ACL strain” demonstrated a maximum difference of 54.3-N·m increased abduction torque and 74.5-N·m increased abduction torque at 66 milliseconds postimpact. Conclusion: Under the tested conditions, increased external loads led to increased medial knee translation force, knee abduction moment, and external knee moment. Females exhibited greater forces and moments at the knee, especially at KAM, when loaded in similar conditions. As these KAM loads are associated with increased load and strain on the ACL, the sex-based differences observed in the present study may account for a portion of the underlying mechanics that predispose females to ACL injury as compared with males in a controlled simulated athletic task. Clinical Relevance: KAM increases strain to the ACL under clinically representative loading. Additionally, this work establishes the biomechanical characteristics of knee loading between sexes.
- anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- dynamic knee valgus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine