Monday, March 11, 2013

Can ACL Injuries Be Prevented?

It is one of the most common injuries we hear about.  It is also one of the most devastating of all athletic knee injuries.  Yet is it really that prevalent and can it be prevented?
Did you know that there is an average of 250,000 to 300,000 ACL injuries in the US every year?  At an average cost of $20,000 to $50,000 per injury, this equates to over $5B in health care cost on an annual basis. That does not include the downstream cost of re-injury, OA and potential total knee arthroplasty down the road. Knowing that 79% will develop OA in 12 years, the overall cost could nearly double.

If we could prevent as little as 10%, that is a $500M - $1B health care savings. It seems there are some easy ways to reduce health care spending without reducing quality of care or negatively impacting patients. But it does require stepping outside the box. We know we can identify those at risk and have a big impact on ACL injuries and re-injury rates.
Two great articles in the March 2013 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (  Augmented Feedback Supports Skill Transfer and Reduces Hugh-Risk Injury Landing Mechanics looks at augmented feedback on deficits known to put athletes at risk during the drop vertical jump.  Comparison of Drop Jumps and Sport Specific Sidestep Cutting: Implications for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Risk Screening looks at the carry-over of bilateral testing to specificity of actual mechanisms of ACL injury.  Both of these point out why it is essential to be able to assess, quantify and objectively re-assess your interventions.  Doing so is vital for maximizing results and performance. 
The traditional approach of assessing athletes on the table with manual muscle testing and other similar tests does not provide the knowledge we need to make a difference.  Movement screens that challenge athletes in a similar fashion to sport are essential to maximizing performance and reducing injuries.  The Dynamic Movement Assessment™ is just one tool to do just that.

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