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Types of Knee Injuries & How They Occur

Published in The Forensic Examiner, Spring 2005

Edited By: Kenneth Solomon, PhD, PE, et al.
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The purpose of this article is to distinguish the mechanism of knee injury (e.g., forward fall while foot is trapped, impact of knee on dashboard, chronic injury due to repetitive twisting, etc.) from the type of injury (e.g., torn meniscus, ruptured ACL, bursitis, etc). While there are no absolute rules for positively associating each mechanism of injury with a specific type of injury, this article will provide some guidance for those attempting to prove or disprove the relationship between mechanism and injury type.

Scope of Paper
Before we are able to discuss types of injuries to the knee joint, we must first examine the anatomy of the knee joint and the kinematics that the structures of the knee generate. We will then discuss the relationship of mechanism of injury and the type of injury from both an anatomical point of view and by example.

Anatomy of the Knee
The knee is the largest joint in the body.9 The femur, tibia, and patella combine to create a complex joint (Figures 1 & 2). This complex joint is comprised of three articulations: two tibiofemoral articulations(joints between bones or cartilages that are immovable when the bones are directly united) and one patellofemoral articulation.10 The two tibiofemoral joints are created by the condyles (articular prominences of bones) of the femur and plateaus of the tibia. The medial and lateral condyles of the femur more.

Dr. Kenneth Solomon is Chief Scientist and Technical Director of the Institute of Risk and Safety Analyses. He is a Professional Engineer and is a Board Certified Forensic Examiner in Engineering, Technology, and Law Enforcement. His areas of expertise include engineering, risk and safety analysis, accident reconstruction, bio-dynamics, and human factors.

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