ACL Injury and Prevention
An injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) can be devastating to an individual especially a competitive athlete. Suffering an ACL tear likely means that you will be unable to return to your prior functional levels for 6-12 months after undergoing surgery to reconstruct the ligament. Most of us have been impacted by someone who has incurred this injury whether it be as parent, teammate, coach, or as the actual patient. Advances in surgery and rehabilitation of this injury have allowed individuals to recover with less pain, earlier function, and in many cases stronger and more stable than they were prior to the injury. Despite the advances we have made medically over the last 20 years in rehabilitating ACL reconstructions our goal should be to “prevent” or minimize the risk of an ACL tear by identifying those at greatest risk and providing a program to address those impairments.
I think it is important to understand what makes the ACL such an important component to our function and the scope of this injury in society. The ACL is one of the primary internal stabilizers of the knee joint. It prevents your thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) from being able to move too far apart from one another thus providing a stable foundation when we are performing activities on our feet. There are over 250,000 ACL injuries in the United States alone every year and females are 2-8 times more likely to suffer this injury versus males. More than 80% of all ACL tears occur due to noncontact situations. This means the vast majority of these injuries result due to factors such as decreased muscle strength/endurance, delayed muscle activation, poor mechanics, and improper shoe wear that can be improved or corrected by a skilled physical therapist.
I have spent more than 20 years rehabilitating ACL injuries and have lectured on offering programs to minimize the risk of these injuries to athletes of all ages as well as academic institutions. Unfortunately neither the athletic or academic populations have taken the idea of prevention seriously and have instead continued to be a part of the staggering numbers of individuals suffering this injury. The good news is that we at Summit Physical Therapy are not giving up and are willing to offer both education and/or training to both individuals and groups who want to reduce the likelihood of an ACL tear. I hope that you allow us to provide you with the opportunity to avoid becoming another surgical statistic!
Mark A. Montuore, MPT