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Acute Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury among Young Female Athletes


When the Federal legislation called Title IX was passed in 1972, it changed the face of sports for girls and women in the U.S. In 1971, prior to the enactment of Title IX, the percentage of females in sports was 3.7%. By 1998, participation in sports by female athletes had risen to 33% (Giugliano, Solomon, 2007). Prior to the enactment of Title IX, there were less than 300,000 high school girls that participated in sports. In the school year 2005-2006 the number of high school female athletes had increase by over 1000% to almost 3 million (Lal, Hoch, 2007). With the higher rates of participation, there have been corresponding increases in rates of injury associated with athletic pursuits.

The knee joint is the site of the highest injury rates among youth athletes (Parkkari, Pasanen, Mattila, Kannus, Rimpela, 2008). It is estimated that 70% of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur during participation in a sporting event (game or practice) as opposed to the very low incidence of ACL tears seen by non-athletes in this age group. Most ACL injuries occur in sports where there is a preponderance of quick stopping, cutting, and change of direction. These maneuvers would be seen in basketball, soccer and handball. The majority of ACL injuries are non-contact in nature.

For the athletes who get injured, many are faced with the prospect of losing the entire season of play, expensive treatments such as surgery, long-term rehabilitation, possible loss of scholarship funding, emotional and mental impairment affecting quality of life, relationships and academics, permanent functional impairment and disability and the lifelong potential for future arthritis in the injured knee joint (Giugliano, Solomon, 2007; Parkkari, et al., 2008).

website compiled by Patricia Gannon and David Ogato