Pathological changes of human ligament after complete mechanical unloading

Chia Hsin Chen, Xuhui Liu, Ming Long Yeh, Mao Hsiung Huang, Qihui Zhai, Walter R. Lowe, David M. Lintner, Zong Ping Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the pathologic changes with a time sequence among patients with injured ligaments after complete mechanical unloading, based on a human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) model. DESIGN: Pathologic examinations were done on remnants of completely ruptured ACLs at various times up to 14 wks after injury on 31 patients and on normal ACLs from five cadaver donors. Testing variables included fibroblast density, crimp amplitude, and crimp nuclear shape. RESULTS: Sequential changes were observed: Fibroblast density significantly increased within 5-6 wks of unloading. By 7-8 wks, crimp amplitude significantly decreased, accompanied by formation of irregular fiber patterns and fragments. This was followed by crimp wavelength and nuclear shape change within 9-14 wks. CONCLUSIONS: These pathologic findings suggest that the ACL undergoes significantly deleterious changes from 5 to 6 wks after mechanical unloading. This study may emphasize the important concept of early implementation of mechanical force in rehabilitation programs for patients with injured ligaments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


  • ACL
  • Basic Science
  • Dynamic Change
  • Mechanical Unloading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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