ROSEMONT, Ill. and DALLAS, March 2, 2009 – To help young female athletes avoid commonly occurring ACL injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) will launch a public service announcement (PSA) campaign in March 2009 to educate athletes, coaches, parents, health care professionals and media on prevention and treatment. The organizations have developed specific recommendations to help female athletes lower the incidence of this type of injury.
“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.”
Background and Prevention
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. In fact recent studies reveal that young female athletes are up to eight times more likely than boys to tear their ACLs. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that in 2006 there were more than 46,000 female athletes age 19 and younger who experienced a sprain and strain of the ACL. Nearly 30,000 of these injuries required repair.
“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.”
Featuring a “Most Vulnerable Player” trophy with a female soccer player on crutches, the PSA headline reads, “Too many female athletes are getting put on the shelf.” AAOS and NATA will kick off the yearlong public service campaign in March 2009. It will be distributed in major consumer magazines and daily newspapers nationwide and appear on billboards at select airports throughout the country. The campaign also coincides with National Athletic Training Month in March, which promotes the theme of “Health Care for Life & Sport.”
The campaign is the fourth in a series of annual print PSA efforts launched jointly by both groups, since they have proven to be an effective way to disseminate critical health care information. Previous campaigns focused on youth sport overuse injuries, baby boomer injury prevention and prevention of falls among seniors.
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.
For more information about the prevention and treatment of ACL injuries, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Web site at and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Websites.
About the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS): With more than 35,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, (www.aaos.org) or (www.orthoinfo.org) is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality of musculoskeletal health. Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information for patients and the general public on musculoskeletal conditions, treatments and related issues.
National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport: Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession. Only 42 percent of high schools have access to athletic trainers. NATA members adhere to a code of ethics. NATA supports the right of all patients to have equal access to the services of athletic trainers through the Athletic Trainers’ Equal Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 1137). Visit www.nata.org.
Both AAOS and NATA are participating in the Bone and Joint Decade (www.usbjd.org) - the global initiative in the years 2002-20011 - to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people's quality of life.