We have spoken about ACL tears and reconstruction previously. Some studies estimate the frequency of ACL injuries in the US at 90,000 per year. Women, due to differing Q angles and hormones which create greater laxity of their ligaments, are 5 times more likely to tear their ACL than men. While ACL tears used to be career ending, in many cases athletes can now return to play in 6-12 weeks.
One of the common complaints post-ACL tear is not of weakness, which is generally addressed in rehab but of positional sense (or kinesiological control). Littmann et al 2012 wanted to determine if the ability to sense passive position in space was different for those with reconstructed ACLs compared to those without injury.
11 university women who had reconstructive ACL surgery during high school and 20 university women who’s ACLs were intact were placed in a device which would complete knee flexion and extension at speeds varying from 40 degrees/sec to 100 degrees/sec. They were told to indicate when their knees were folded at 50 degrees of flexion.
CNS processing time was estimated at 260 milliseconds for both groups and both groups showed similar levels of error at all speeds and positions.
This would tend to indicate that at least in-terms of passive positional sense, female athletes with reconstructed ACLs are not at a disadvantage compared to their intact ACL counterparts. A follow-up study on active control would be interesting as that would be the next logical step.