An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear is one of the most common – and dreaded – injuries for athletes of all levels. Fortunately for athletes, orthopedic experts around the globe are continuously uncovering new ways to treat and help prevent ACL injuries.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a finely tuned professional athlete, a torn ACL means the same thing: an arduous rehabilitation and a long road to returning to your pre-injury abilities.
A torn ACL poses one of the highest risks of prematurely ending an athlete’s competitive career.
ACL tears pose a unique challenge to the doctors who treat them because, unlike other ligaments of the knee, the ACL doesn’t heal or “reknit” when stitched back together. In most cases, during correctional surgery, the surgeon must recreate the tendon from other portions of the patient’s leg or from a donor’s tendon.
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An Increased Risk for Female Athletes
Women are four to six times more likely to suffer a torn ACL than men, according to a recent study in the Journal of Athletic Training. There are many reasons, including differences in anatomy (wider hips and inherent joint laxity), hormones (hormonal differences can affect collagen and fluctuations in joint laxity) and training (different training techniques impact strength, especially in the hips and core).
Making Prevention the First Step
At Carolinas Rehabilitation in Charlotte, NC, physical therapist and center manager Mike Agnone has taken preemptive measures to help female athletes avoid serious knee injuries. Agnone is among the sports medicine rehabilitation specialists at Carolinas Rehabilitation who offer a proven, evidence-based and well-researched ACL Injury Prevention program which incorporates dynamic warm-ups, stretching, jumping/plyometricdrills, strength training and flexibility exercises to help athletes avoid knee injuries. These exercises help develop leg strength, improve balance, and perfect jumping and landing mechanics.
“Seventy percent of serious knee ligament injuries occur non-contact, such as landing from a jump or during twisting type activities,” Agnone said. “We want to educate athletes, parents and coaches about the program so they realize that, for a nominal cost, they can decrease the chance of student-athletes suffering career-ending knee injuries.”
This scientifically proven, evidence-based program launched at Carolinas Rehabilitation in the summer of 2013. And, while it’s designed specifically for female athletes, the program benefits male athletes as well.