The purpose of this study was to compare the morphological and mechanical properties of the human patellar tendon among elementary school children (prepubertal), junior high school students (pubertal), and adults. Twenty-one elementary school children, 18 junior high school students, and 22 adults participated in this study. The maximal strain, stiffness, Young's modulus, hysteresis, and cross-sectional area of the patellar tendon were measured using ultrasonography. No significant difference was observed in the relative length (to thigh length) or cross-sectional area (to body mass2/3) of the patellar tendon among the three groups. Stiffness and Young's modulus were significantly lower in elementary school children than in the other groups, while no significant differences were observed between junior high school students and adults. No significant differences were observed in maximal strain or hysteresis among the three groups. These results suggest that the material property (Young's modulus) of the patellar tendons of elementary school children was lower than that of the other groups, whereas that of junior high school students was already similar to that of adults. In addition, no significant differences were observed in the extensibility (maximal strain) or viscosity (hysteresis) of the patellar tendon among the three groups.
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