Prospective Frontal Plane Angles Used to Predict ACL Strain and Identify Those at High Risk for Sports-Related ACL Injury

Nathaniel A. Bates, Gregory D. Myer, Rena F. Hale, Nathan D. Schilaty, Timothy E. Hewett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Knee abduction moment during landing has been associated with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. However, accurately capturing this measurement is expensive and technically rigorous. Less complex variables that lend themselves to easier clinical integration are desirable. Purpose: To corroborate in vitro cadaveric simulation and in vivo knee abduction angles from landing tasks to allow for estimation of ACL strain in live participants during a landing task. Study Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Methods: A total of 205 female high school athletes previously underwent prospective 3-dimensional motion analysis and subsequent injury tracking. Differences in knee abduction angle between those who went on to develop ACL injury and healthy controls were assessed using Student t tests and receiver operating characteristic analysis. A total of 11 cadaveric specimens underwent mechanical impact simulation while instrumented to record ACL strain and knee abduction angle. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated between these variables. The resultant linear regression model was used to estimate ACL strain in the 205 high school athletes based on their knee abduction angles. Results: Knee abduction angle was greater for athletes who went on to develop injury than for healthy controls (P <.01). Knee abduction angle at initial contact predicted ACL injury status with 78% sensitivity and 83% specificity, with a threshold of 4.6° of knee abduction. ACL strain was significantly correlated with knee abduction angle during cadaveric simulation (P <.01). Subsequent estimates of peak ACL strain in the high school athletes were greater for those who went on to injury (7.7-8.1% ± 1.5%) than for healthy controls (4.1-4.5% ± 3.6%) (P <.01). Conclusion: Knee abduction angle exhibited comparable reliability with knee abduction moment for ACL injury risk identification. Cadaveric simulation data can be extrapolated to estimate in vivo ACL strain. Athletes who went on to ACL injury exhibited greater knee abduction and greater ACL strain than did healthy controls during landing. Clinical Relevance: These important associations between the in vivo and cadaveric environments allow clinicians to estimate peak ACL strain from observed knee abduction angles. Neuromuscular control of knee abduction angle during dynamic tasks is imperative for knee joint health. The present associations are an important step toward the establishment of a minimal clinically important difference value for ACL strain during landing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2020


  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • knee biomechanics
  • landing mechanics
  • mechanical impact simulator
  • sports injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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