Physical Therapy Plays a Key Role in Reducing Frequency of ACL Injuries
For many families, sending your kids back to school also means sending them back out onto the field as fall sports begin. But did you know that according to the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, as many as 250,000 ACL injuries occur every year in the United States and that the incidence has surged in recent years alongside the spike in youth sports participation?
No matter how healthy your student is, a quick change in direction on the soccer or football field or a shaky landing following an explosive jump on the volleyball or basketball court can spell trouble. The populations most at risk for an ACL tear are young female athletes—who sustain ACL injuries nearly 10 times more often than males—and young athletes who specialize in a single sport at an early age.
Many think of physical therapists when it comes to treating ACL injuries, but the latest research shows rehab professionals can play an even bigger role in prevention. A recent American Journal of Sports Medicine study concluded that incidents of ACL injury drop by about 50% at the hands of neuromuscular and educational interventions led by physical therapists.
Contrary to popular belief, three-quarters of all ACL tears are non-contact injuries, occurring when an athlete cuts, decelerates or jumps. Why are these routine moves so harmful? The biggest culprit is often muscle imbalance. RPT’s physical therapists, particularly those who have earned their Sports Certified Specialist (SCS) designation, are trained to develop individually tailored programs based on an assessment of your student athlete’s functional deficits in motion, strength, and control. The special program will address strength, flexibility and coordination, and correct existing movement patterns that may be damaging to joints.
It’s important to remember that regular evaluations with a physical therapist can help identify impairments and reduce the risk of ACL and other injuries. And, there’s a lot at stake: post-operative rehabilitation will set an athlete back nine months on average, delay their return to sport, and in some cases, prevent a return to prior intensity and skill level. Keep your student athlete healthy – go online to ptcentral.org today to schedule your complimentary evaluation with one of our experts in sports physical therapy!