AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 1, 2020


More than a Knee Injury: ACL Tears Cause Harmful Changes in Our Brain Structure

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It’s known that some joint function is often permanently lost after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, and re-injury is common even with intensive physical therapy, but it’s unclear why. 

New research from the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology shows structural changes in the brains of patients who underwent ACL reconstruction. These changes hinder recovery and may contribute to performance deficits and re-injury, says study co-author Lindsey Lepley, U-M assistant professor of athletic training.

Lindsey Lepley and colleague Adam Lepley, clinical assistant professor of athletic training, took MRI brain scans of 10 ACL-reconstructed patients. The scans showed that part of the corticospinal tract — the pathway that scuttles messages from brain to muscles — had atrophied in the patients. 

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