2020-07-21Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00746
Muscle Fascicles Exhibit Limited Passive Elongation Throughout the Rehabilitation of Achilles Tendon Rupture After Percutaneous Repair
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Achilles tendon rupture (ATR) results in long-term functional and structural deficits, characterized by reduced ankle mobility and plantarflexor muscle atrophy. However, it remains unclear how such functional impairments develop after surgical repair. While it is known that this injury negatively affects the tendon’s function, to date, limited work has focused on the short-term effect of ATR on the structure of the muscles in series. The aim of this study was to characterize changes in medial gastrocnemius architecture and its response to passive lengthening during the post-surgical rehabilitative period following ATR. Both injured and contralateral limbs from 10 subjects (1 female, BMI: 27.2 ± 3.9 kg/m2; age: 46 ± 10 years) with acute, unilateral ATR were assessed at 8, 12, and 16 weeks after percutaneous surgical repair. To characterize the component tissues of the muscle-tendon unit, resting medial gastrocnemius muscle thickness, fascicle length, and pennation angle were determined from ultrasound images with the ankle in both maximal plantarflexion and dorsiflexion. The ankle range of motion (ROM) was determined using motion capture; combined ultrasound and motion capture determined the relative displacement of the musculotendinous junction (MTJ) of the AT with the medial gastrocnemius. The ATR-injured gastrocnemius muscle consistently exhibited lower thickness, regardless of time point and ankle angle. Maximal ankle plantarflexion angles and corresponding fascicle lengths were lower on the injured ankle compared to the contralateral throughout rehabilitation. When normalized to the overall ankle ROM, both injured fascicles and MTJ displacement exhibited a comparably lower change in length when the ankle was passively rotated. These results indicate that when both ankles are passively exposed to the same ROM following ATR surgery, both ipsilateral Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius muscle fascicles exhibit limited lengthening compared to the contralateral MTU tissues. This appears to be consistent throughout the rehabilitation of gait, suggesting that current post-operative rehabilitative exercises do not appear to induce muscle adaptations in the affected MTU.