Reducing the risk of ACL injuries

Is prevention the best medicine?

 

You’d be hard pressed to find any youth soccer, basketball or football team that doesn’t have at least one player with an ACL injury.

ACL diagramThe anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, stabilizes the knee and is highly susceptible to injury during high impact sports. As the popularity of youth sports continues to grow, so does the number of teen and young ACL injuries. How can this be minimized?

Training for prevention

Young athletes receiving universal neuromuscular training is proving to be an effective deterrent to ACL injuries, according to a recent Columbia University Medical Center study. The training teaches athletes proper bending, jumping, landing and pivoting techniques. The study focused on 10,000 “at-risk” athletes between the ages of 14 and 22. The results showed an average reduction of 63 percent in ACL injuries in those who received universal training.

Screening for ACL weaknesses also helps reduce the number of ligament sprains and tears, but reduced the rate by only 40 percent.

Counting the costs

The estimate to run a universal training program for coaches and players is about $1.25 per day, according to the study researchers. ACL reconstruction can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $17,000.

“According to our model, training was so much less expensive and so much more effective than we anticipated.” said orthopaedic resident Eric F. Swart, the lead author of the study

While preventive training and screening might sound like the best option, screening is a high-cost variable if implemented on a team-wide basis.

Source: “Universal neuromuscular training reduces ACL injury risk in young athletes,” Medical Xpress. 14 Mar. 2014.