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Serious Knee Injuries in Athletes
By Jenette Johnson, PTA

Jenette Johnson, PTA

As focus in this country is shifting towards living a healthier lifestyle, more people are participating in sports and physical activities. The youth population begin playing sports at a younger age and also play year round. This increase in participation has led to an increase in the number of serious knee injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

The ACL attaches the femur to the tibia. Its functions are to prevent hyperextension of the knee, prevent anterior gliding of the tibia on the femur, and stabilization of the knee. Female athletes are at a higher risk of injuring the ACL. Currently, 1 in 100 high school female athletes and 1 in 10 collegiate female athletes will suffer a torn ACL. Several contributing factors increase the female athlete's risk of a serious knee injury. First, females have wider hips which can cause increased valgus force in the leg and strain on the joint. Second, women typically land in valgus, whereas men naturally demonstrate proper body mechanics when landing from a jump or cutting. Third, a muscle imbalance between the quadriceps and the hamstrings can also exist. If the quadriceps are much stronger than the hamstrings, the force generated from the quadriceps can be too strong for the hamstrings to help stabilize the knee joint. This can cause a shift of the femur on the tibia, tearing the ACL.

Recognizing this increasing trend of injury, Dr. Frank Noyes developed a scientifically proven prevention program called Sportsmetrics. The program can correct body mechanics, fix muscle imbalance, and can improve speed and agility to enhance performance in the athlete's sport. A video jump test can show the individuals risk for a knee injury. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", a quote that means it is better to work now to prevent an injury, than to deal with the pain, surgery, and rehabilitation following an injury.

Jenette Johnson is a certified Sportsmetrics trainer at OSPTA. Call any of the OSPTA offices at 1-800-337-6452 for questions or to set up a video test to evaluate your child's risk. For more information, visit www.osptainc.com.

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