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ACL Injuries and Prevention

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Diagram of knee showing different ligamentsThe Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) lies deep within the knee joint, linking the Femur (thigh bone) and Tibia (shin bone). It is the primary passive restraint to excessive rotation and anterior translation of the knee joint and as a result it can be ruptured during activities where there is a forceful knee twist on a planted foot (during skiing, football and rugby), or when landing on a semi flexed knee (landing from a jump in basketball or landing a motor cross bike).

Research has shown that there are 80,000-100,000 ACL ruptures each year in the United States. This extrapolates to 2,000-3,000 ACL ruptures per year in London. London has some of the best orthopaedic knee specialists who can do an amazing job with ACL reconstruction surgery, but this has to be followed up with 6-9 months of physiotherapy rehabilitation to restore knee joint function. Even with a surgically reconstructed knee, research indicates that people who sustain an ACL injury have an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. This knee surgery, rehabilitation and late complication scenario can be avoided with a specific ACL prevention programme.

There is a growing body of published evidence that ACL prevention measures with a physiotherapist to modify known risk factors can significantly reduce the risk of an ACL rupture. These programmes have been scientifically validated and allow an objective measure of the initial ACL risk and the post prevention plan ACL risk. The research shows that those most at risk of an ACL injury are the people who will benefit most from an ACL prevention programme.

Who’s most at risk?

Recreational Alpine skiers are most at risk of an ACL rupture. There is an equal risk of injury of males to females during skiing. If you ski and don’t know your risk level for an ACL rupture, your winter holiday could be ruined by expensive knee surgery and up to a year in physiotherapy rehabilitation.

Female soccer and basketball players have a three times greater incidence of ACL rupture compared to males. Females in their mid to late teens suffer the highest number of ACL injuries.

What can be done to reduce the risk of an ACL rupture?

An ACL risk reduction programme consists of an assessment with a physiotherapist who will collect data related to your lower limb kinetics and kinematics; analyse movement control and measure lower limb muscle strength. This data is then analysed using a validated algorithm to produce an objective measure of knee load that is correlated to ACL injury risk. A physiotherapy training programme with a home exercise programme over 4-6 weeks is then undertaken to correct faults with alignment, stability, muscle imbalance and landing mechanics. A re-assessment is then undertaken to establish the post training ACL injury risk, which following the training programme should be significantly reduced.

Central Health Physiotherapy provides ACL Risk Reduction Programmes – call now to book your assessment.

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