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Young athletes' ACL injury risk increases with fatigue, research shows

Young athletes' ACL injury risk increases with fatigue, research shows

7/17/2018

ACL injuries are one of the most common sports injuries affecting adolescent athletes, leading to lost playing time and high healthcare costs.

Research presented last week at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting in San Diego shows athletes who experience fatigue – tested on a standardized assessment – demonstrated increased risk of ACL injury.

The study is the first to measure the direct impact of fatigue on injury risk in the adolescent population. 

“We studied 85 athletes at an average age of 15.4 years, and found 44.7 percent showed an increased injury risk after high-intensity aerobic activity,” noted Dr. Mohsin S. Fidai from Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and the lead author. “Additionally, 68 percent of those studied were identified as having a medium- or high-risk for injury following the activity, as compared to 44 percent at baseline.”

The study utilized vertical and drop-jump assessments of each athlete, which were captured on video and reviewed by 11 professional health observers.

Participants included track and field, basketball, volleyball and soccer athletes. Injury risk was also associated with the level of fatigue, as 14 of 22 athletes demonstrating over 20 percent fatigue showed an increased ACL injury risk.

Female athletes and those over age 15 were also more likely to demonstrate an increased injury risk. 

“While ACL injury prevention programs are commonly used now, a decrease in injury numbers has not followed suit,” Fidai said. “We hope this study helps advocate for ACL injury prevention training programs to incorporate fatigue resistance training and awareness by coaches, trainers and physical education teachers.”

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) is the premier global organization representing the interests of orthopaedic surgeons and other professionals who provide comprehensive health services for the care of athletes and active people of all ages and levels. It cultivates evidence-based knowledge, provides extensive educational programming, and promotes emerging research that advances the science and practice of sports medicine. AOSSM is also a founding partner of the STOP Sports Injuries campaign to prevent overuse and traumatic injuries in kids.

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