Background and Purpose: The incidence of Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries has increased over the past several years among athletes which has, therefore, resulted in an increase in ACL surgical reconstructions. This is a devastating injury requiring many months of intense and painful rehabilitation, an interruption in sports participation, and often results in increased risk of early onset osteoarthritis. In addition, females are at higher risk for ACL injury than males. For these reasons, ACL injury prevention programs have been a focus of sports medicine research in the past two decades. The purpose of this paper was to review the research related to this topic and more specifically answer the following question: In high school and college aged athletes, is participation in an ACL prevention program as effective for males as compared to females regarding prevention of ACL injuries? Case Description: The patient of interest was a 21-year-old male referred to outpatient orthopedic physical therapy following ACL reconstruction. The mechanism of injury was non-contact and occurred during an intramural football game approximately 3 months prior to surgery. After examination and evaluation, impairments including decreased range of motion, strength, quadriceps tone, and abnormal gait pattern were found. In addition, he demonstrated functional limitations and participation restrictions such as difficulty dressing the involved lower extremity and inability to drive, walk between classes on his college campus, and play recreational sports. Outcomes: He was discharged after six physical therapy visits over the course of five months. The location of his home and school prevented him from attending more sessions; therefore, compliance with the home exercise program was crucial to his recovery. He met all of his goals by achieving increased range of motion and strength. Additionally, his gait pattern was restored to normal. He had no difficulty with dressing, driving, or walking around campus and he was able to return to recreational sports participation. Discussion: After review of the literature, injury prevention programs were effective for reducing the rate of injury in most cases, particularly in female athlete populations. The evidence regarding the efficacy of prevention programs in male athletes was somewhat controversial with some studies reporting reduced injury rates and some reporting no effect found. The components used in injury prevention warm-up programs seemed to be similar between males and females with strengthening, plyometrics, balance, and proprioception exercises used frequently. More research would be beneficial to determine the most advantageous elements to include in injury prevention programs for male athletes.
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Anterior Cruciate Ligament; Exercise Therapy; Sports Medicine
Estes, Lainey. "Efficacy of ACL Injury Prevention Programs in Male and Female Athletes." (2016). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/dpt/23
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