Immediate and 6-week effects of wearing a knee sleeve following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: A cross-over laboratory and randomised clinical trial
Background. Rehabilitation following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions is based mainly on comprehensive progressive exercise programmes using a multi-dimensional approach. Elastic knee sleeves may be useful adjuncts to rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to determine the immediate and 6-week effects of wearing a knee sleeve on person-reported outcomes and function in participants who had undergone an ACL reconstruction and who had residual self-reported functional limitations. Methods. Individuals with ACL reconstruction in the previous 6 months to 5 years were recruited. Immediate effects of a commercially-available elastic knee sleeve on single-leg horizontal hop distance were explored using a cross-over design. Following this first session, participants were randomised into a Control Group and a Sleeve Group who wore the sleeve for 6 weeks, at least 1 h daily. Outcome measures for the randomised clinical trial (RCT) were the International Knee Documentation Classification Subjective Knee Form (IKDC-SKF) score, the single-leg horizontal hop distance, and isokinetic quadriceps and hamstring peak torque. Linear mixed models were used to determine random effects. Where both limbs were measured at multiple time points, a random measurement occasion effect nested within participant was used. Results. Thirty-four individuals (16 women) with ACL reconstruction completed the cross-over trial. Hop distance for the injured side during the sleeve condition increased by 3.6 % (95 % CI 0.4-6.8 %, p = 0.025). There was no evidence of differential changes between groups for the IKDC-SKF (Sleeve Group n = 15; Control Group n = 16; p = 0.327), or relative improvement in the injured side compared to the uninjured side for the physical performance measures (Sleeve Group n = 12, Control Group n = 12; three-way interaction p = 0.533 [hop distance], 0.381 [quadriceps isokinetic peak torque], and 0.592 [hamstring isokinetic peak torque]). Conclusions. Single-leg hop distance of the ACL reconstructed side improved when wearing a knee sleeve. Wearing the knee sleeve over 6 weeks did not lead to enhanced improvements in self-reported knee function, hop distance and thigh muscle strength compared to the control group.