There is a high incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in adolescents participating in pivoting sports such as soccer, basketball, and handball. Most ACL injuries in athletes are noncontact injuries, with a mechanism of sudden deceleration, change in direction, or landing from a jump. These mechanisms coupled with an increase in contraction of the quadriceps have been shown as risk factors for ACL injuries. Injuries to the ACL may require surgery, a long rehabilitation, and the potential for reinjury. Studies have shown reductions in lower extremity injury rates using training protocols that focus on landing mechanics, balance training, strength training, and/or agility training. There has been some thought that starting preventive training programs with adolescent athletes may be the most effective approach to reducing adolescent ACL injuries.
Focused Clinical Question:
Can lower extremity injury-prevention programs effectively reduce ACL injury rates in adolescent athletes?
The authors are with the Dept of Human Movement Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.