Monday, October 6, 2008

ACL Injuries in Females

My nine year old daughter plays soccer. This is the first year she really seems to be enjoying the game. The first two seasons she was afraid of the ball because she was always getting hit in the face. She prefers to play offense and she holds her own playing defense. The team played their fourth game this past Sunday. I sat on my folding chair and was enjoying the game. My daughter was playing defense and collided with an opposing team member. She was down on the field like a rag doll. I was calm at first but then I saw her sit up and hold her knee. My heart sank. The coach had to carry her off the field. She got kicked on the inside of her knee. Her knee is swollen and a nice shade of purple but she is fine.

A recent article from EmaxHealth indicates:

According to physical therapist and APTA spokesperson Mark Paterno, PT, MS, MBA, SCS, ATC, coordinator of orthopedic and sports physical therapy at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that ACL tears occur four times more frequently in females than in males involved in the same amount of sports participation. He says the difference in neuromuscular control, or the way our muscles contract and react, is one of four primary factors contributing to why women are more susceptible to knee injuries than men. Other discrepancies are anatomical (men and women are structurally differently), hormonal (women's hormonal makeup affects the integrity of the ligament, making it more lax), and bio-mechanical (the positions our knees get in during athletic activities).

"Women perform athletic tasks in a more upright position, putting added stress on parts of the knee such as the ACL, resulting in less controlled rotation of the joint," said Paterno. "While men use their hamstring muscles more often, women rely more on their quadriceps, which puts the knee at constant risk.

The article suggests that the PEP program (Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance) developed by the Santa Monica ACL Prevention Project could reduce the risk of ACL injuries. This is an interesting website with injury prevention information for female athletes.

In regards to my daughter and soccer, the article gives me a lot to think (I mean worry) about.


Wei said...

This is interesting - my doctor told me that women tend to have more flexible knees, which means more flexible ligaments. I think that's part of the reason why we're so susceptible to knee injuries.

I hope your daughter didn't do any serious damage to her knee!

Michele said...

Thanks for your comment. My daughters knee is just bruised but I was worried when I saw her down on the field clutching her knee. Just recently, I have heard of so many female soccer, field hockey and lacrosse players with ACL injuries. It seems to be common on high school sports teams.