Approximately 250,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur in the United States each year. Most people cannot return to sports after an ACL injury without surgical intervention (Non-copers), but some can (Copers). Recent research suggests that the ability to cope with ACL injury is most likely related to neuromuscular function. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the neuromuscular control strategies of ACL deficient (ACL-D) Non-copers, ACL-D Copers, and people with uninjured knees using an established target-matching protocol, electromyography (EMG) of 10 muscles acting at the knee, and circular statistics methods. Thirty-two people (12 Non-Copers, 8 Copers, and 12 people without a history of knee injury) volunteered to participate in the study. The ACL-D subjects demonstrated diminished neuromuscular control when their muscle activity patterns were compared to those of the uninjured subjects. The key difference between the Copers and Non-copers was that Copers demonstrated better quadriceps control than the Non-copers. This study may have important implications for the treatment of people who sustain ACL injuries.

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