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Heartland Orthopedic SpecialistsJefferson C. Brand, M.D., Emily J.M. Monroe, M.D., and Rich Hardy, Ed.D., L.A.T., CSCS, as well as Christopher Butler, Ph.D., recently embarked on a research investigation titled “Kinetic Chain Injuries and Their Relationship to Subsequent ACL Tears.” Their study was published in the national, peer-reviewed journal The Sport Journal, the official journal of the United States Sports Academy, on December 6, 2018. 

Through their research, the group sought to understand whether a history of ankle injuries may play a significant role in patients later incurring a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and if it is a factor for injuries throughout the kinetic chain between the hip, knee and ankle. A kinetic chain is simply an interrelated chain of musculoskeletal components which function together. 

“The knee is a link in the chain between the hip and ankle joints,” says Dr. Brand, a fellowship-trained sports medicine specialist at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists and coauthor of the research study. “With that in mind, dysfunction in the ankle joint could potentially play a factor in the function of the knee joint.” 

The study was conducted using a sample of 108 patients who had undergone either ACL reconstruction or labral repair surgery. Overall, 63 patients (34 males and 29 females) had ACL reconstruction and 45 patients (36 males and 9 females) in the control group had surgery for labral lesions of the shoulder. Both groups included a common element of ankle injury history among many members, but these numbers were statistically insignificant.

“Ultimately, we found that ankle injury history is not a predisposing factor for ACL tears,” says Hardy, a certified athletic trainer and coordinator of research at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists. “Though they are linked in the kinetic chain, our investigation shows that ACL tears vary independently from ankle injuries and a history of ankle injury may neither lead to future ACL injury nor protect against one.” 

To learn more about the sports medicine team at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists or to schedule an appointment, please call (800) 762-1177 or request an appointment online