Enhancing Rehabilitation Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
Bailey, Andrea Kay
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To enable papers to be published.
Thesis Title: Enhancing rehabilitation following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Context: Physical training with a neuromuscular focus has been shown to reduce anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. However, ACL injury remains prevalent and often leads to joint instability, which requires surgical reconstruction. Following reconstructive surgery, a minimum of 6 months supervised rehabilitation is recommended with associated with financial cost implications to the National Health Service (NHS), the patient and society. Traditionally rehabilitation is offered in a concurrent format, whereby strength and cardio-vascular endurance exercises are performed in the same session. However, accumulating evidence from healthy populations, suggests that the development of strength might be attenuated by cardio-vascular endurance conditioning performed in close temporal proximity. This thesis comprises an entirely novel investigation of potential attenuation of strength gains in rehabilitating clinical populations that is associated with temporal incompatibility of physiological conditioning stimuli. No study has previously investigated this phenomenon, whether it might compromise the efficacy of treatment or recovery, or its potential influence on objectively-measured and patients’ perception of functional, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular performance capabilities. Objectives: The purpose of this thesis was to assess the effects of reconstruction surgery and 24 weeks of non-concurrent strength and endurance rehabilitation (with 48 week post-operative follow-up) on (a) subjective (IKDC; KOOS; PP [Chapter 4]) and objective measures of function (HOP [Chapter 5]) (primary outcome measures for this thesis), and (b) objective measures of musculoskeletal (ATFD) and neuromuscular performance (PF, EMD, RFD, SMP [Chapter 5]) (secondary outcome measures), in patients with anterior cruciate ligament deficiency. The secondary aim was to evaluate the relationships amongst a subjective outcome of function (IKDC), an objective outcome of function (HOP), and the secondary objective outcomes of musculoskeletal (ATFD) and neuromuscular (PF, RFD, EMD, SMP) performance at pre-surgery and at 24 weeks post-surgery (Chapter 6). Setting: Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Design: Prospective random-allocation to group trial involving iso-volume rehabilitative intervention versus contemporary practice, using contralateral limb assessment and clinico-social approbation controls. The design compared the effects of experimental post-surgical rehabilitation comprising non-concurrent strength and endurance conditioning with two conditions of control reflecting contemporary clinical practice (matched versus minimal assessment interaction). Participants: Eighty two patients (69♂, 13♀, age: 35.4 ± 8.6 yr; time from injury to surgery 9.4 ± 6.9 months [mean ± SD]) electing to undergo unilateral ACL reconstructive surgery (semitendinosus and gracilis graft [n = 57]; central third, bone-patella tendon-bone graft [n = 25]); were allocated to groups (2:2:1 purposive sampling ratio, respectively). Nineteen patients were lost to follow-up. Intervention: A standardised traditional concurrent (CON) ACL rehabilitation programme acted as the control versus an experimental non-concurrent (NCON) ACL rehabilitation programme that involved separation of strength and cardio-vascular endurance conditioning. An additional control group (Limited testing CON) matched the CON group rehabilitation applied within contemporary clinical practice. Outcome Measures: Chapter 4: The self-perceived primary outcome measures of function IKDC, KOOS and PP were assessed on five separate occasions (pre-surgery, and at 6, 12, 24 and 48 weeks post-surgery). However, assessment occasions were purposefully reduced to pre-operative and 48 weeks post-operative for the Limited testing CON group. Chapter 5: The primary objective outcome of function was HOP; the secondary outcomes were ATFD, PF, RFD, EMD and SMP associated with the knee extensors and flexors of the injured and non-injured legs. These objective outcomes were assessed on five separate occasions (pre-surgery, and at 6, 12, 24 and 48 weeks post-surgery). However, assessment occasions were purposefully reduced to pre-operative and at 48 weeks post-operative only for the Limited testing CON group. Chapter 6 Self-perceived (IKDC) subjective knee evaluation and the objective outcome of function (HOP), and selected objective outcomes of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular performance including ATFD, PF, RFD, EMD and SMP of the knee extensors and flexors of the injured and non-injured legs where applicable; measured at pre-surgery and at 24 weeks post-surgery were analysed for association, using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients. A priori alpha levels were set at p<0.05. Results: Chapter 4: Factorial analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with repeated-measures investigating the primary aim showed significant group (NCON; CON) by test occasion (pre-surgery, 6, 12. 24 and 48 weeks post-surgery) interactions for self-perceived outcomes of function IKDC, KOOS and PP confirmed increased clinical effectiveness of NCON conditioning (F(2.0, 82.9)GG = 4.0 p<0.05, F(2.2, 134.7)GG = 5.5 p<0.001, F(1.9, 121.4)GG = 14.6 p<0.001, respectively) and the group mean peak relative difference in improvement for NCON was ~5.9% - 12.7% superior to CON. The greatest interaction effect was found to occur between pre-surgery and the 12 weeks post-operative test occasion for IKDC and KOOS, and between pre-surgery and the 24 week test occasion for PP. Patterns of improvements in self-perceived fitness over time were represented by a relative effect size range of 0.71 to 1.92. Improvement patterns were not significantly different between control groups offering matched or minimised assessor-patient interaction (CON vs. Limited testing CON; pre-surgery vs. 48 weeks post-surgery) indicating that clinical approbation by patients had not contributed to the outcome. Chapter 5: Factorial analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with repeated-measures showed significant group (NCON; CON) by leg (injured/non-injured) by test occasion (pre-surgery, 6, 12, 24 and 48 weeks post-surgery) interactions of the objective measure of function (HOP) together with the secondary outcomes of ATFD, PF, RFD, EMD and SMP. Similar responses were noted for the knee extensors and flexors of the injured and non-injured legs (F(2.1, 248) GG = 4.5 to 6.6; p<0.01) and confirmed increased clinical effectiveness of NCON conditioning (range ~4.7% - 15.3% [10.8%]) better than CON between 12 and 48 weeks. Patterns of improvements in physical fitness capabilities over time were represented by a relative effect size range of 1.92 to 2.89. Improvement patterns were not significantly different between control groups offering matched or minimised assessor-patient interaction (CON vs. Limited testing CON; pre-surgery versus 48 weeks post-surgery) indicating that clinical approbation by patients had not contributed to the outcome. Chapter 6: Two-tailed probabilities were used due to the exploratory nature of this study. A limited number of weak to moderate statistically significant correlations were confirmed (ranging from r = 0.262 – 0.404; p<0.05; n=48 [amalgamated NCON and CON groups] ) between IKDC and most notably, the neuromuscular performance outcome of EMD. Conclusion: Overall, the patterning and extent of changes amongst self-perceived, functional, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular performance scores offer support for the efficacy of using non-concurrent strength and endurance conditioning to enhance post-surgery rehabilitation. The limited robustness of relationships amongst the validated and frequently-used self-perceived outcome of function [IKDC], and objectively-measured outcomes of function and musculoskeletal and neuromuscular performance suggested that each might properly reflect an important but separate aspect of clinical response and should be deployed to detect change.
Gleeson, Nigel P
PhD in Sport and Health Sciences