More College Age Women Are Suffering From ACL Injuries

WNBC—NEW YORK CITY—June 13, 2007

Reporter: College age young women are suffering from a disproportionate number of knee injuries. These are not only painful but they can stop a student athlete in his or her tracks.

To talk more about these injuries, we are joined by Jordan Metzl, M.D., sports medicine specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery.

First, we should let some parents of teenagers know what we are talking about with the ACL.

Dr. Metzl: ACL stands for anterior ligament cruciate—it’s a ligament inside the knee, and unfortunately we are seeing this injury very commonly in athletes and more commonly in girls. If you tear your ACL, then the knee bones don’t move together in unison. That’s why a torn ACL makes you unable to play sports—you don’t have that much stability in your knee.

Reporter: Why are we seeing that more girls are suffering from this kind of injury than boys?

Dr. Metzl: Basically it’s about four to five times more common in girls than boys, and it’s probably for a number of reasons. It really seems to occur after girls go through puberty. Their hips widen and the angle that the femur bone, the upper leg bone, comes into the knee is wider in girls, so that seems to make them more likely to have this injury.

Reporter: Also, the way girls land—intuitively landing with their knees inward—can cause a problem.

Dr. Metzl: Yes, and it’s often because of how their muscles are developed and how their hips come in.

Reporter: I know some schools are looking into the way girls are trained to avoid these kinds of injuries. Have you heard anything about this?

Dr. Metzl: ACL prevention becomes the next step with where we are, and there is a huge movement in sports medicine to get teenage kids involved in ACL prevention exercises. These exercises can really reduce the risk of ACL injury, and these are being done across the country. If you have a kid at home, a teenage athlete who is involved with sports, you want to talk to your sports medicine doctor or your physical therapist about getting them started in ACL prevention exercises.

Reporter: Also, sometimes the way a joint is on a particular student athlete means they shouldn’t participate in that sport.

Dr. Metzl: That’s rightthat’s the next frontier. We’ll have that discussion in a couple of years here, and that’s about there being different technology to identify who is at risk for this injury.

To view the full interview, visit WNBC.com.

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