ACL Injury Prevention Program
There never seems to be a shortage of ACL injury stories in sports news (hear about Stephen Hill earlier this month?). Many professional athletes, like Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, have torn their ACLs and subsequently raised societal awareness of this injury. The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine estimates there may be between 100,000 and 250,000 ACL injuries each year in the United States alone. Physical therapists are uniquely trained, educated and positioned to engage communities in the prevention of a torn ACL.
Recent evidence shows that the risk of ACL injury can be diminished through participation in an ACL injury prevention program. Therapists at RehabVisions address this need and add value to the healthcare system by developing these programs.
Any ACL injury prevention program should start with objective baseline testing. The Functional Movement Screen, Y- balance test and single-leg hop tests are all good options. As smart phones and tablets become more common, a therapist may elect to do a biomechanical landing analysis with an app such as Coach’s Eye.
The following criteria should be met during the neuromuscular training regimen:
- The protocol should consist of plyometric, balance, core stability and lower extremity strengthening exercises.
- Regular feedback needs to be given to the athlete to ensure they are incorporating biomechanically sound landing strategies.
- Training sessions should be held a minimum of two times per week.
- The duration of the training program should be a minimum of six weeks.
It’s important to “sell” the value of the program to community sports leaders. Talking personally to coaches and athletic directors in your region and educating them on your program is a good start. Marketing the program as “ACL injury prevention” and “performance enhancement” may improve the odds of buy-in as most athletes want that edge on the field or court. Talk to the parents of any athletes that you have seen previously after an ACL reconstruction. After all, the biggest predictor of an athletic injury is a history of a previous injury.
Assistant Manager Cory Ash, PT has 18 years of clinical experience and has been with RehabVisions since 2005. He is a board-certified specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy (OCS), a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), an APTA-credentialed clinical instructor and an ASTYM-certified therapist.