Injuries to the lateral collateral ligaments of the ankle joint are among the most frequently occurring injuries at the lower limb. The present study was conducted for the purpose of establishing the basis for the development of a quantitative diagnostic procedure for such injuries. To achieve this goal, the effect of four types of ligament injuries on the three-dimensional mechanical characteristics of the ankle were investigated. These types of injuries consisted of: 1) isolated tear of the anterior talofibular ligament; 2) isolated tear of the calcaneofibular ligament; 3) isolated tear of the posterior talofibular ligament; and 4) combined tear of both the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament. The experiments were conducted on 31 amputated lower limbs and consisted of comparing the three-dimensional load-displacement and flexibility characteristics of the ankle joint prior to and following sectioning of selected ligaments. The experimental and analytical procedures used to derive these characteristics was developed previously by the authors [3, 24]. From the results of this study it was concluded that the three-dimensional flexibility characteristics of the ankle joint are strongly influenced by damage to the lateral collateral ligaments. Furthermore, it was found that each type of ligament injury produced unique and identifiably changes in the flexibility characteristics of the ankle. These unique changes, which are described in detail in this paper, can be used to discriminate between the different types of ligament injuries. Consequently, it was concluded that it is feasible to develop a quantitative diagnostic procedure for ankle ligament injuries based on the effect of the injury on the flexibility characteristics of the ankle.

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