Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries : Why women are at higher risk for ACL injuries and prevention strategies
Pueblo, Erika L.
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Every year, there are about 200,000 people who fall victim to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. A majority of these patients, about 175,000 people, require an ACL reconstruction surgery; among those patients, about 38,000 are high school students. Since the title IX act, there has been a steady rise in the amount of female injuries in athletics which can be slightly attributed to the rising population of female athletics. Female adolescents who participate in more rigorous sports suffer ACL injuries at 4-6-fold greater rates than the male adolescents participating in the same sports. In relation to their male counterparts, females have smaller make-ups and take longer to generate the maximum hamstring torque. Differences exists within the knee joints of males and females, along with the effects of the female menstrual cycle on the rigidity of ligaments. Due to the many differences in anatomy, neuromuscular function, and hormone levels, females are more prone to ACL injury than their male counterparts. Injuries to the ACL are debilitating and can have consequences other than missing a season of sports. Diagnosis of ACL injury includes many techniques including the Lachman’s test, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in order to get a visual of the knee joint. There are two popular surgeries used in the reconstruction of the ACL which include patellar-tendon and hamstring autograft procedures. Rehabilitation after surgery is different for each patient but has a tendency to follow the same goal schedule. Prevention programs and techniques exist in order to minimize the effects of these many differences that increase the risk of ACL injury in female athletes.
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