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An Athlete's First Question: 'Doc, When Can I Return?'
Date:2/25/2009

Year-round participation in sports affects healing time for ACL injuries in young athletes

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each year more than 300,000 Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears occur in the United States. According to information released today at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (http://www.aaos.org/) (AAOS), ACL tears are being seen in younger patients as an increasing number of children and adolescents participate in year-round sports.

"What's happening is that usually by about age 12, children choose the sport in which they are determined to excel and then participate in that sport year round," explains Darren L. Johnson, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and director of sports medicine at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine. "Participating without taking time off, playing on multiple teams at one time and at higher competition levels, makes young athletes more susceptible to ACL tears at a younger age."

Dr. Johnson says ACL injuries are common among athletes who play:

  • soccer
  • football
  • volleyball
  • basketball

The injury is almost twice as common in female athletes compared to males, although the reasons why are still not entirely clear.

When an ACL tears or ruptures, it is a severe injury to the knee. "The real story is that only about 60 to 70 percent of athletes make it back to the same level of playing that they had before," said Dr. Johnson.

In order to improve those statistics, orthopaedic surgeons are trying to more accurately customize surgery to each individual patient. "We are trying to do a better job at recreating a person's unique anatomy," noted Dr. Johnson, "and are act
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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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