Do ACL injury prevention programs work?

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are serious injuries that occur frequently in both male and female athletes, especially those involved in sports which require frequent direction changes such as soccer, football, and basketball to name a few. The ACL is an important ligament in the knee which prevents excessive forward motion of the tibia (shin bone) on the femur (thigh bone) and stabilizes the joint during twisting motions.  Because it plays such an important role in stabilizing the knee joint, an ACL injury often requires surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation period. In an effort to avoid ACL tears many teams now participate in training programs specifically developed to reduce the risk of injury to the ACL, but do they actually work?

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery performed a meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of ACL injury prevention programs and to determine if there is enough evidence to identify the “best” program to follow. The authors looked at 8 controlled studies that directly examined ACL injury prevention programs compared to non-prevention programs.

The results of their meta-analysis indicated strong evidence to support a significant effect of ACL injury prevention programs, estimating a risk reduction of 52% in female athletes and 85% in male athletes. Because of the variety in the prevention programs used in the included studies, they were not able to determine an “optimal” prevention program and suggested that further research should be done to determine the most effective prevention program. As with every rehabilitation program, the best prevention program will be individualized and tailored to the needs of the athlete in question.

See a registered physiotherapist if you are interested in learning a program that you can follow to help decrease your risk of injury and stay in the game.

 

Reference:

Sadoghi P, von Keudell A & Vavken P. Effectiveness of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention Training Programs. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012 May 2;94(9):769-76.

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