BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 Jun 10;23(1):560. doi: 10.1186/s12891-022-05488-2.
BACKGROUND: Elastic knee sleeves are often worn following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) but their effects on movement patterns are unclear.
AIM: To determine the immediate and six-week effects of wearing a knee sleeve on biomechanics of the knee during a step-down hop task.
METHODS: Using a cross-over design, we estimated sagittal plane knee kinematics and kinetics and stance duration during a step-down hop for 31 participants (age 26.0 [SD 6.6] years, 15 women) after ACLR (median 16 months post-surgery) with and without wearing a knee sleeve. In a subsequent randomised clinical trial, participants in the ‘Sleeve Group’ (n = 9) then wore the sleeve for 6 weeks at least 1 h daily, while a ‘Control Group’ (n = 9) did not wear the sleeve. We used statistical parametric mapping to compare (1) knee flexion/extension angle and external flexion/extension moment trajectories between three conditions at baseline (uninjured side, unsleeved injured side and sleeved injured side); (2) within-participant changes for knee flexion angles and external flexion/extension moment trajectories from baseline to follow-up between groups. We compared discrete flexion angles and moments, and stance duration between conditions and between groups.
RESULTS: Without sleeves, knee flexion was lower for the injured than the uninjured sides during mid-stance phase. When wearing the sleeve on the injured side, knee flexion increased during the loading phase of the stance phase. Discrete initial and peak knee flexion angles increased by (mean difference, 95% CIs) 2.7° (1.3, 4.1) and 3.0° (1.2, 4.9), respectively, when wearing the knee sleeve. Knee external flexion moments for the unsleeved injured sides were lower than the uninjured sides for 80% of stance phase, with no change when sleeved. The groups differenced for within-group changes in knee flexion trajectories at follow-up. Knee flexion angles increased for the Control group only. Stance duration decreased by 22% for the Sleeve group from baseline to follow-up (-89 ms; -153, -24) but not for the Controls.
CONCLUSIONS: Application of knee sleeves following ACLR is associated with improved knee flexion angles during hop landing training. Longer term (daily) knee sleeve application may help improve hop stance duration, potentially indicating improved hop performance.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial was prospectively registered with the Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry No: ACTRN12618001083280, 28/06/2018. ANZCTR.