COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Knee injuries may result in significant changes in the brain, researchers at Ohio University determined in a study.
In a paper published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, scientists say they were able to demonstrate lasting changes to the brain after recovery of the knee for patients who experienced an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
"The brain fundamentally changed in how it processes information from an injured knee," OSU researcher Dustin Grooms said in a press release. "We think those changes play a big role in why people who recover from ACL injuries don't trust their knees entirely and tend to move them differently."
Researchers used brain scans to study people with ACL injuries, and found that test subjects relied on visual systems in the brain instead of their own spatial awareness when instructed to move their knee.
"It's like walking in the dark, you don't walk as fast, you don't move as confidently," researcher Jimmy Onate explained. "These individuals may, in a smaller sense, be doing the same thing, not moving as confidently and constantly using visual cues when they really don't need to."
To help patients recover, scientists involved with the study recommend using strobe classes to facilitate motor learning during rehabilitation.
ACL injuries occur when the anterior cruciate ligament tears, and is typically associated with athletic activity. Following the incident, knees have been known to swell and feel unstable. Patients often report being unable to use their affected leg to support their own weight.