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Anterior cruciate ligament tears plague teenage athletes as debilitating knee injuries spike

The debilitating injury is increasingly common among adolescent athletes, giving pediatric and orthopedic surgeons cause for concern.

New York Daily News—August 20, 2013

Shane Friedman, 15, of Manhattan, remembers hearing a terrifying crack in his left knee as he came down hard from a layup in a basketball tournament.

Rebecca Popple, 16, of New Jersey, who has been playing competitive soccer since she was just 7, recalls crying in agony as she was carried off the field by her dad — unable to move her right knee.

And 10-year-old Calvin Fontaine of Westchester County remembers zooming downhill on a New Hampshire slope and falling when he went to turn. His leg had gotten stuck in his ski.

Dr. Frank Cordasco of Hospital for Special Surgery treats 10-year-old Calvin Fontaine. “It’s an epidemic,” said Dr. Frank Cordasco, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery who has operated on many NFL players.

“We are seeing kids in our clinic every week. It used to be that seeing a kid with this kind of injury was rare.”

Kids can cut down the risk of knee injury as they play. Dr. Daniel Green, the pediatric surgeon who works with Cordasco, added: “What is driving this is kids are getting stronger and getting more opportunities to play at the highest levels. I am surprised how many kids say their injury happened during competitive, organized sports rather than a playground.”

The two Hospital for Special Surgery surgeons have pioneered a new surgical technique that does not compromise the anatomy of youngsters who still have more growing to do. They said they are operating on 200 to 300 kids a year, unheard of even a decade ago.


Doctors warn that going back to play too soon after a major injury can risk re-tearing the same knee, or tearing up the other knee. Cordasco and Green usually recommend between 12 and 18 months before returning to the court or field at full intensity.

This story originally appeared at nydailynews.com.


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