ROSEMONT, Ill. and DALLAS, March 3, 2009
To stem the rising tide of ACL injuries among young female athletes, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) are launching a joint public service announcement (PSA) campaign to educate athletes, coaches, parents, health care professionals and media on prevention and treatment. The PSA will feature a "Most Vulnerable Player" trophy of a female soccer player on crutches next to a headline reading "Too many female athletes are getting put on the shelf."
"We're pleased to partner with AAOS on this much-needed campaign to raise awareness of ACL injuries among female athletes," said Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC, president of NATA and a certified athletic trainer. "We're hopeful that by shedding more light on the topic, and as more girls are taking part in sports including soccer and basketball, that athletes and those who work closely with them on the playing field will take the necessary steps to reduce or eliminate these types of injuries."
The ACL is one of four ligaments necessary for proper knee stability and function.
Rigorous exercises or activities, such as basketball or soccer, that require sudden pivots or stops can significantly increase the chances of an ACL tear, a common injury among athletes - especially females.
Recent studies reveal that young female athletes are up to eight times more likely than boys to tear their ACLs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 46,000 female athletes age 19 and younger experienced a sprain or strain of the ACL in 2006.
- Nearly 30,000 of the injuries required reconstructive surgery.
"While there is no single exercise that can prevent ACL injuries, the chances of such an injury happening can be lowered by performing training drills that emphasize power and agility and by improving muscular reactions with jumping and balance drills," said Letha "Etty" Griffin, MD, PhD, a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic in Atlanta and AAOS spokesperson. "This is especially true for female athletes who are more vulnerable to ACL tears."
Both non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available for ACL injuries. After an ACL injury or ACL reconstruction, an exercise and rehabilitation program to strengthen the muscles and restore full joint mobility of the knee may include the following:
- Range-of-motion and stretching exercises designed to restore flexibility.
- Braces to control joint movement.
- Exercises to strengthen the quadriceps and other leg, hip, pelvic and trunk muscles. (Muscle strength is needed to provide the knee with as much support and stability as possible.)
- Additional exercises including balance training, agility and aerobic conditioning like stationary cycling.
An athletic trainer or orthopaedic surgeon can recommend more advanced programs designed to improve technique, strengthen muscles and further decrease the chances for an ACL injury.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and National Athletic Trainers' Association