Throughout the history of this blog, we asked the question, is an anterior cruciate ligament injury a sports injury or a major life lesson. Hopefully you get a sense that it is is a little of both. Although it is not just a sports related injury, that is where we see it the most commonly. But more importantly, it is a life lesson for the athlete, the parent, coach and for us as strength coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists. Does it have to be this way? With almost 80% of ACL injuries being non-contact in orientation, do we just accept this or do we do something about it? Knowing there are certain movement patterns that put athletes at risk for these injuries and which also negatively impact athletic performance, do we just accept it or do we do something about it?
2020 will be another pivotal year for me. This represents the 20th year of following a calling to do something about this devastating injury. I have learned a lot along this journey. #1 thing I have learned is that if we wait for the pure researchers to figure out the solution for us, we will be waiting another 20 years. I don't know about you, but I am not willing to wait that long. For the purest wants to control all the variables, look at things in isolation and validate through multiple studies. The reality in sports is this is controlled chaos. In athletic settings you can not control all the variables and look at things in isolation. Yes things need to be validated and we need to use sound scientific principles.
The other thing that I have learned is that technology companies are tech people and not clinicians. You might be saying...well duh. But here is my point. They are selling you technology. They will tell you it does one thing or another but in reality they have no clue of whether or not it truly does that clinically. For example, there are now some kinect based technologies out there that say they can accurately measure human movement. They say this accurately measures factors which put an athlete at risk for injury. Gaming technology that I can't get to work right in a game but will accurately measure movement. Really? So you telling me that huge delay I "see" between the athlete moving and the avatar moving is an accurate measure of movement? I am not a biomechanist but common sense would tell me something is wrong with this picture. I guess my point being is that we have to apply some science and common sense to what we elect to use. Most importantly, we need to know what the limitations of the technology we are working with and tech companies should be up front about this.
So I said that 2020 is a pivotal year. Part of that is because this is the year that we are devoted to making sure this is the year that we start having a dramatic impact on non-contact athletic injuries and athletes' performance. Specifically to continue to integrate technology into mass physicals, use this data to drive programming for prevention throughout the year and create more objective measures for determining athletes return to sport following ACLR. In 2017, we wrapped up several large research projects highlighting what can happen if you apply the movement science and technology with a little common sense. Two of these were published in 2019 and one still in the pipeline. We also have several new studies underway already. I am excited to share this with you for one reason. That maybe we can use the knowledge gained from this work to really start preventing injuries in athletes in 2020!
We will discuss each one of these in detail but first, to give you an idea of the level of impact we are having. To date, we have over 350 systems deployed across the US collecting data on athletes. We have collected movement data on over 15,000 athletes! This is astounding. We have implemented our movement corrective program (ACL Play It Safe) with over 8,000 athletes across the US. Next year, we will be launching a new version which will be much easier to deploy, more cost effective and capture even more movement data. We are projecting to get movement data on an additional 20,000 athletes. The coolest part of all of this, is with this amount of data, we will constantly be able to vet this data for trends and norms for sport, age, gender, etc. In addition, the way we are doing this, we can scale this to have not only an impact on injury rates nationally but we can now scale this internationally.
So stay tuned for this series and make 2020 the year that we all dramatically change the way we do things. Make 2020 the year we step outside the box and try something different. This blog series will run for 3 weeks and then we will resume the previous series on "The Evolving Knowledge of Movement".
If you enjoy this blog, please share with your colleagues, athletes and training partners and please be sure to follow us on Instagram @ bjjpt_acl_guy and twitter @acl_prevention so we can continue to share some of the latest news. If you happen to be at Combined Sections this year, please come by and see us Thursday where we will be presenting on RTSport Following ACLR. Train hard and stay well.