By: Karli Stichter
About 250,000 to 300,000 athletes tear their ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) every year. 20,000 to 80,000 of those athletes are high school girls. After Title IX was passed in 1972 prohibiting discrimination between girls and boys, the amount of girls participating in sports increased greatly. Girls most commonly affected by the ACL injury play sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis, and volleyball, which require quick movements and cutting. There are various theories expressing possible reasons why ACL tears are more common in girls than in boys. According to momsteam.com, one theory suggests girls, “run and cut sharply in a more erect posture than men, and bend their knees less when landing from a jump”. These movements are unavoidable for girls putting them at a higher risk of tearing their ACL. As a result there have been various programmes encouraging proper stretching and warm-up routines for athletic girls.
The ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament plays a vital role in an athlete’s performance. The ligament running from the tibia (shin bone) to the back of the femur (thigh bone) serves as a source of prevention from extreme knee rotation. Unfortunately, the ACL can be easily ruptured from fast- paced activities, awkwardly landing from a jump, quick changes in direction, or direct contact/collision.This devastating injury requires surgery 95% of time, followed by rigorous physical therapy and intense care which is highly suggested especially if the athlete desires to go back to their sport or activity. Senior, Johannah Moz just recently reached the ending point of her nine months in physical therapy. She tore her ACL in a high school league soccer game last January. “When I figured out that the painful pop I felt in the game was a result of a torn ACL I was devastated and cried because in the back of my head I knew I would not be able to finish the soccer season,” says Johannah. Johannah is excited to finally be back with her team and is more confident than ever for the 2014-2015 soccer season. When I asked her about how she felt about the scar on her knee she said, “It is a representation of the journey I went through to recover from this horrible injury.”
As for girls that are at the beginning or in the middle of a long road to recovery, they have many challenges yet to face. Alondra Barrera, a freshman on the girls soccer team, just had her surgery in October. She returned to school a few weeks ago after spending many days in bed struggling to even walk. Unfortunately, she will not be able to participate in the 2014-2015 girls soccer season but plans to get back to the sport she loves as fast as possible.The same goes for freshman Grace Martin. She had her ACL surgery during the summer which unfortunately restricted her from any summer high school sports and from participating in the 2014 girls volleyball season. “I knew it once I hurt my knee and the only reason I cried was because I knew I tore it. My oldest sister went through the process of tearing her ACL twice and it was a struggle for my parents to keep up and I felt so bad for them,” says Grace.
Tearing the Anterior Cruciate Ligament is unfortunately the most common knee injury for athletic girls. Girls spend nine months to a year recovering to return to the sports/activities they love. Through this trial they learn the importance of taking care of their bodies and protecting themselves from injuries. From them we learn how much motivation and perseverance it takes to recover from an injury as devastating as this. We also learn the importance of teaching our athletes how to prevent career ending injuries.