A theoretical model of the knee and ACL: Theory and experimental verification

Deb A. Loch, Zongping Luo, Jack L Lewis, Nathaniel J. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A three-dimensional mathematical model of the human knee joint was developed to examine the role of single ligaments, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) graft in ACL reconstruction, on joint motion and tissue forces. The model is linear and valid for small motions about an equilibrium position. The knee joint is modeled as two rigid bodies (the femur and the tibia) interconnected by deformable structures, including the ACL or ACL graft, the cartilage layer, and the remainder of the knee tissues (modeled as a single element). The model was demonstrated for the equilibrium condition of the knee in extension with an anterior tibial force, causing anterior drawer and hyperextension. The knee stiffness matrix for this condition was measured for a human right knee in vitro. Predicted model response was compared with experimental observations. Qualitative agreement was found between model and experiment, validating the model and its assumptions. The model was then used to predict the change in graft and cartilage forces and joint motion of the knee due to an increment of load in the normal joint both after ACL removal and with various altered states simulating ACL reconstructions. Results illustrate the interdependence between loads in the ACL graft, other knee structures, and contact force. Stiffer grafts and smaller maximum unloaded length of the ligament lead to higher graft and contact forces. Changes in cartilage stiffness alter load sharing between ACL graft and other joint tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A theoretical model of the knee and ACL: Theory and experimental verification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this