Will New Programs Stem the Epidemic of Knee Injuries?

Laird Harrison


July 08, 2014

In This Article

Will Athletes Take ACL Prevention Seriously?

The debate about compliance gets at the key problem facing all knee injury prevention programs: Not enough athletes are doing them.

"We're doing a study to try to get a handle on how many clubs are implementing injury prevention," Mandelbaum says. "So far, the numbers are extremely disappointing."

It's not as if these experts haven't tried to spread the word. "We've been preaching this for 15 years," says Frank Noyes.

Dozens of journal articles have shown the efficacy of the knee injury prevention programs, and lay publications, such as Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, have reported on them. "It's not that people don't know the information," says Bert Mandelbaum. "It's that people don't pick up the information."

Lately professional organizations have started getting on board. In April, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed neuromuscular training for young athletes to prevent ACL injuries.[16] It also published a list of resources for these programs[17] and a report on diagnosing and treating ACL injuries.[18]

Noyes has heard that other organizations are working on similar statements. But it's not doctors -- but rather coaches, trainers, parents, and the athletes themselves -- who need convincing.

"Part of it is the nature of athletics today, and part of it is human nature," says Noyes. "If you have a 15- or 16-year-old daughter and she participates in soccer, would she rather go to a summer skill camp to learn how to manage the ball and learn how to do all the skills for six weeks, or is she going to take a six-week performance neuromuscular training camp?"

Experts offer these tips to physicians who want to help reduce knee injuries:

Reach out to trainers and coaches in your community;

Make the argument that the programs will not only prevent injuries but also enhance athlete performance; and

Point out that the training programs don't take extra time, because they can replace traditional warm-ups, such as toe-touches, that have not been shown to reduce injury.

Consciousness-raising is a slow process, but statistics suggest that even convincing one team to undertake these exercises can save several athletes from physical and emotional pain and loss of fitness.


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