Top-10 Posts of 2012: #1, “Youth ACL Injuries on the Rise…but Why?”
Posted Jan 04 2013 10:26am
There is an alarming trend happening in youth sports: We’re seeing more and more severe injuries. More concussions (I’ve posted about concussions before. You can read them HERE , HERE , and HERE ) in youth football, more elbow injuries in pitchers , and more ACL injuries. As a parent of three athletic and active boys, the ever-increasing injury rate is worrisome. Do I let them play football at a young age? When do I allow them to throw a curveball? Can we truly prevent ACL injuries? These are questions that run through my mind often.
I definitely have my opinions on these matter. You might see my boys playing flag football when they’re young, but you most certainly won’t see them wearing pads and a helmet and tackling someone until middle school at the earliest. The curveball won’t be learned until they are in 8th or 9th grade (if they even decide to be pitchers). But the ACL question is a bit trickier. I believe that there are risks you take when you play sports. There are some aches and pains that just happen.
However, I don’t believe the activity isn’t to blame–for example, I don’t believe that someone who plays golf is more susceptible to back pain (remember that if the activity is to blame then everyone who does that activity should have the exact same pain). What’s true is that there is a huge piece of the puzzle missing when it comes to youth ACL injuries–posture. Kids today are much more de-conditioned (don’t read that as me saying our youth are “out of shape”), they’re dysfunctional. Kids are sitting more and moving less. Then when they do decide to move, their bodies aren’t functionally stable enough to support them. They might land wrong, or they might plant a foot to change directions and…boom…their ACL says, “sayonara.” Most of us would blame the ACL tear on the sport being played, but we can’t afford to do that anymore. We have to stay focused on the body that today’s young athlete is bringing to the sport.
I know I’m not the only one concerned about the uptick we’ve seen in youth ACL injuries, because this post was the most-read post of 2012.
I read a disturbing article in the NY Times today about a rise of ACL and meniscus tears in young, pre-adolescent athletes.The article was reporting on a study conducted by Dr. J. Todd Lawrence from Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Lawrence and his team did extensive research tracking the number of ACL and meniscus tears, as well as the number of fractures of the tibial spine where the ACL attaches, at Children’s Hospital from 1999 until early this year.
The article was alarming for a couple different reasons. First, the number of ACL and meniscus tears diagnosed at Children’s Hospital over the last 12 years isstaggering! According to the study: