Background: The goal of postoperative tibial plateau fracture (TPF) management is to ensure surgical fixation is maintained while returning patients to normal function as soon as possible, allowing patients to resume their normal activities of daily living. The aim of this study was to investigate longitudinal changes in lower limb joint kinematics following TPF and determine how these kinematics relate to self-reported function. Methods: Patients presenting with a TPF were recruited (n = 18) and undertook gait analysis at six postoperative time points (two weeks, six weeks, three months, six months, one and two years). Lower limb joint kinematics were assessed at each time point based on gait data. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) was undertaken to investigate the change in joint kinematic traces with time. The Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) was assessed at each time point to obtain self-reported outcomes. A healthy reference was also analyzed and used for qualitative comparison of joint kinematics. Results and significance: Knee kinematics showed improvements with time, however only minor changes were noted after six weeks at the hip, and six months at the knee and ankle relative to two weeks postoperative. SPM identified significant improvements with time in hip (p < 0.001) and knee (p = 0.003) flexion. No significant changes were observed with time at the ankle however, when compared to the healthy reference, participants showed reduced plantarflexion at two years. Lower limb joint ROM showed significant weak to moderate correlation with the ADL sub-scale of the KOOS (hip r = 0.442, knee r = 0.303, ankle r = 0.367). The lack of significant changes with time and overall reduced plantarflexion at the ankle potentially reduces propulsive capacity during gait up to two years postoperative. In this study, we see a deficiency in joint kinematics in TPF patients up to two years when compared to a healthy reference, especially at the ankle.
- Longitudinal joint kinematics
- Postoperative function
- Proximal tibia
- Statistical parametric mapping
- Tibial plateau fracture