For more than a decade, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley has been providing quality pediatric care for patient families throughout the region. Last year, the hospital expanded their Beeghly campus facility to bring more services to one location, making it even more convenient for patient families to get the care they need, close to home.
HOW TO REDUCE RISK OF ACL INJURIES IN GIRLS
A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a common knee injury, especially among athletes. And for female athletes, it’s up to eight times more common than in boys.
Parents and coaches alike often ask me if there’s a way to prevent ACL tears in girls.
The short answer: Yes. There may be ways to decrease the chance that your daughter will have to suffer through an ACL injury.
Over the past decade, training programs have been developed, which have been shown to decrease the risk of ACL injuries in many cases.
One such training program is Sportsmetrics™ developed by Dr. Frank Noyes at Cincinnati SportsMedicine and Orthopaedic Center.
This program consists of 20 exercises in 20 minutes, beginning six weeks to one month prior to the season and continuing throughout the season. Sportsmetrics focuses on muscle and joint preparation, strength, flexibility, agility and plyometrics, which involves correct body alignment and form while jumping and pivoting.
Akron Children’s Sports Medicine and Rehab has such a program and can train girls properly in these exercises.
A second and more recently developed program by Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, team physician for the U.S. soccer national teams, also focuses on neuromuscular training that can be done before and during the season.
His prevention program, called PEP, focuses on a combination of plyometrics, stretching and hip-strengthening exercises that are done three times a week for 15 minutes. Videos instruct the girls on stretching techniques for the trunk and lower extremities, strengthening exercises, plyometric activities such as jumping, and soccer-specific agility drills.
More than 1,000 female athletes were trialed on the PEP system in 2000, and the study demonstrated an 88% decrease in ACL injury in patients who performed the exercises.
Evidence certainly supports that these programs can be helpful and, more importantly, there’s little or no risk associated with doing them.
WEIGHT A FACTOR IN ACL INJURY RISK
The second factor that has been clearly shown to impact the chance of a girl or any athlete suffering an ACL tear is overall weight. Body Mass Index – which estimates how much body fat a person has based on their height and weight – tells us that the higher the BMI, the higher the risk they’ll sustain an ACL tear.
This is true not only of an ACL injury, but many other muscular injuries as well. So, keeping fit can keep these girls out of the OR.
Teen female soccer players – the final consideration is that basketball and soccer have the highest association of ACL tears in girls. There is an endless schedule of girls coming through the office with ACL tears from noncontact injuries from these two sports.
Parents need to understand that these are high-risk sports and should weigh their risks and benefits.
KNEE BRACES WON’T PREVENT INJURY
It’s a common myth that knee braces can prevent ACL tears. The only time knee braces have been shown to be beneficial in preventing any knee injury is with collateral ligament injuries of the knee in college football players who play on the offensive and defensive lines.
No other study has been able to demonstrate decreased risk using a knee brace.