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A New Era: Women and Sports

Nursing Spectrum—June 18, 2007

About 1,800 knee replacements are performed each year at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. The Women's Sports Medicine Center at HSS provides specialized support and treatment for women with knee injuries resulting from participation in sports. Knee pain and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries top the list of the most common conditions treated at the center.

"In the past, knee injuries appeared to be 'male' issues because women weren't as involved in sports. But it's a different era now," says Anne Stroud, RN, nurse manager of the adult arthroplasty units at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "Women today are much more involved in sports and are sustaining injuries that can advance to the need for knee replacements. Also, girls are starting sports at younger ages, so by the age of 30 or 35, we're already seeing a need for some knee replacements."

The majority of injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) occur in females aged 15 to 25, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In addition, women who participate in sports that require a frequent pivoting motion—such as soccer, basketball, and volleyball—are three to four times more likely to injure their knees.

The dynamics of a younger female population that is in need of treatment for knee injuries, including knee replacements, is influencing the course of post-op care and rehabilitation. These patients tend to be fit and healthy and are often determined not to let their injuries slow them down.

Patients who have no major comorbidities, such as heart disease or obesity, might be candidates for a "fast track" through the postoperative period, which means shaving a day or two off the total hospital stay, Stroud says. "They often don't take kindly to hospitalization, and we have modified postoperative treatment to accommodate them," she says.

This story originally appeared at Nurse.com.


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