Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee is a very common occurrence, especially for younger adolescent females. The majority of injuries occur during sports that require running, jumping, and cutting. They occur at an estimated annual rate of 250,000, with females being 2-8 times more likely than males.(1) Females are said to have increased risk due to anatomical and hormonal differences.(2)
The results of a meta-analysis and a systematic review, high-quality research, conclude that preventative programs are beneficial for the reduction of ACL injury. The meta-analysis found that when these programs included neuromuscular and proprioceptive training, ACL injuries were reduced by 50.7%.(1) This type of training involves increasing the awareness one has over their extremities. The systematic review concluded that preventative programs were successful when they included strength training with plyometric, balance and proprioception, and education on proper body mechanics.(2)
The components of these preventative programs are well within the scope of practice of a physical therapist. In addition to that stated above, programs should include specific training that may be required for a particular sport, such as increased plyometrics for sports with increased jumping. Seek a licensed physical therapist for the development of an ACL preventative program.
-Patrick Berner, SPT
1. Donnell-Fink L, Klara K, Losina E, et al. Effectiveness of Knee Injury and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analysis. Plos ONE. December 4, 2015;10(12).
2. Michaelidis M, Koumantakis G. Effects of knee injury primary prevention programs on anterior cruciate ligament injury rates in female athletes in different sports: A systematic review. Physical Therapy In Sport. August 2014;15(3):200-210.