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ACL awareness and preventive training are factors in keeping injury free

An anterior cruciate ligament injury, typically referred to as an ACL injury, can be devastating to both adults and children alike. The ACL, which connects the upper leg bone to the lower leg bone, often becomes the target of an injury for athletes who play jumping and pivoting sports. ACL injuries are most often seen in team sports which demand frequent turns, jumps, stops and starts when running, and often have little to no contact, such as soccer, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, tennis and skiing.

While ACL injuries may not always require surgery, a complete ACL tear does not spontaneously heal on its own, and reconstructive surgery is necessary. An ACL injury that requires reconstructive surgery can take an athlete out of competition for a minimum of six months and upwards of a year. Those athletes who injure their ACLs have to come back from these injuries not only physically, but also psychologically. More and more studies are showing that the fear of re-injury dictates whether or not an athlete will ultimately return to the particular sport where the injury occurred.

To further compound the issue, research has shown that female athletes are two to 10 times more likely to sustain an ACL injury than their male counterparts. Experts say the reason for this is multi-faceted. While it can be equated to a certain degree on the anatomic differences between the sexes, the true answer has yet to be determined and may well be multi-faceted.  Health care professionals are also seeing younger and younger athletes with ACL injuries. This makes it even more imperative to find ways to prevent these injuries before they occur.

Preventative programs can help to reduce ACL injuries and studies have shown that young women athletes who participate in these preventative programs decrease the risk of ACL tears. Experts note that the key to the overall success of these programs is making sure the exercises are done on a daily basis, and that they are done correctly.

South County Physical Therapy, Inc. will be hosting an ACL prevention program this summer for teenage female athletes ages 12 – 18. The program is geared for those athletes who participate in sports that require running, jumping, and a rapid change of direction. This is highly recommended for girls playing basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and field hockey. SCPT therapists and staff will teach proper techniques for all exercises and activities that are geared to decreasing the risk of ACL and other knee-related injuries.

The program runs from July 7, 2014 to August 14, 2014 at Westborough High School, 90 West Main Street, Westborough. Early morning or evening sessions are available.

For more information or to register, contact Nancy Siegel, PT, MS at (508) 389-9912.