Clue Found For Women's Greater Knee Injury Risk In Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball

CHAPEL HILL, NC — March 15, 2002 — New research suggests a possible clue to why female recreational athletes who play basketball, soccer or volleyball tear a ligament of the knee at significantly greater rates than males. The findings offer a basis for shaping effective injury prevention training programs for female athletes.

Studies have shown that the injury rate to the knee's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is up to eight times higher for women than it is for men, particularly in sports requiring stopping and jumping tasks. Such injuries in young athletes often require surgery and prolonged rehabilitation.

The ACL is one of one of two ligaments that cross within the knee joint to prevent the leg bone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur) from slipping forward or backward out of the joint. Although ACL injuries are more than 70 percent sports-related, most occur when there is no direct physical contact between athletes.

Writing in the March/April issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, authors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill point to a particular risk factor for ACL injury in women: greater anterior shear force, or forward slippage of the tibia, that is applied to the knee during sports-related stop-jump tasks.

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