Many people have heard of someone they know having a knee injury, not just professional athletes. ACL injuries can occur from things outside of sports but are mostly related to physical activity of some kind. The people most prone to an ACL tear are teenage girls active in sports. Over the past 13 years, it was found in a study by The University of North Carolina that the need for reconstructive surgery has risen in teenage females by 59%. Over 100,000 people will have an ACL injury in a year in the United States.
So why are women more prone to this injury and why are the number of injuries increasing?
Most ACL injuries are due to non-contact sports and research shows that the likeness of a female injuring an ACL is 4 to 6 times more likely than a male. The research into the cause of this drastic difference is not vast and many theories are not completely proven. One theory is the difference in the way males and females use their leg muscles to slow down from running, females use their quadriceps to decelerate which causes more pressure on the knee. Another potentially cause was found in a study at the University of Colorado at Denver where the difference in motion between males and females was analysed. Females tend to let their knees buckle in during physical activity which is a focus in physical therapy after reconstruction surgery. The buckling of the knee indicates a lack of stability and greater strain on the knees.
“Home.” Beaumont Health | ACL Tears Signs, Diagnostics, and Treatments | Beaumont Orthopedics, www.beaumont.org/conditions/acl-tears.
“Why Do Females Injure Their Knees Four to Six Times More Than Men…And What Can You Do About It?”. University of Colorado Hospital. Maria Osborne. http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/Orthopaedics/clinicalservices. /sportsmed/Documents/WISH_SPORTSMED_Female%20
“Newsroom.” Teen ACL Injuries on the Rise, UNC Researchers Call for Wider Use of Injury Prevention Programs – News Room – UNC Health Care, 6 July 2017, news.unchealthcare.org/news/2017/july/teen-acl-injuries-on-the-rise-unc-researchers-call-for-wider-use-of-injury-prevention-programs.
In McKenzie’s story, she endures a second ACL injury to the same knee which is common. The recurrence causes a great amount of doubt in the trust of her body and lack of confidence in the sports she participates in. The worry of a third tear does prevent her at times from participating in activities but she tries to live a life where this fear does not stop her. McKenzie’s ACL story conveys the process of recovery from a sports injury that is not solely physical, but a mental one that takes time.
The story McKenzie tells is one that many young women experience and can relate to. While reconstruction surgery exists there are other effects that McKenzie will later endure due to her surgery such as early onset arthritis in her knee. Due to the affects ACL injuries have and their increasing occurrence, many pediatric doctors are researching preventative measures that can be taken. There are preventative exercises and programs that doctors are advocating to be apart of teens sports programs. By raising awareness on how to prevent this injury, the normality of ACL injuries can decrease.