ACL tears continue to hamper high school athletes


PORTLAND (WGME) -- High school athletes are training longer than ever before, many hope to move on and continue playing at the collegiate level.

However as a result, injuries are also on the rise, particularly one serious knee injury that can wipe out a season.

For today's high school athlete the level of competition is at an all-time high.

Kids are now in the gym year round hoping to get bigger, faster and stronger.

However despite the long hours of training Dr. Ben Huffard of Orthopaedic Associates says there's one injury that continues to sideline high school athletes.

"I would say in the past ten to fifteen years there's been a relatively steady increase in the number and rate of ACL injuries."

It's called a torn anterior cruciate ligament or torn ACL. Dr. Huffard has seen his share of ACL tears and says it's even more common with female athletes.

"There's some real evidence that per hour of participation in similar sports soccer and basketball in particular where the rate of injury for females girls in particular is two and a half to three times higher than males," Huffard said.

Time trainer and strength & conditioning specialist Ben McCrillis says there's a reason for that.

"Women usually have a wider hip base than men do and they are usually a lot more narrow at the knee and so the ability to come down and absorb shock is going to put them in a faligus position where the knees are going to sort of what they call knee knocking and so the inability for them to receive low coming sown and being able to change directions is going to make it very very difficult," McCrillis said.

McCrillis also offered some advice on how to avoid the injury.

"Core control is a big thing especially for females vs males," McCrillis said. "Males tend to have better core control especially coming down or changing directions especially in sports so young girls developing a strong core is huge."

The good news is an ACL tear was once considered a career ender, but Dr. Huffard says that's no longer the case.

"Now we're able to get people back to full function it's still a big injury to the knee and so long term there are things we worry about after having an ACL injury but the results of surgery are great we get 90 % of the people back to their pre injury athletic level," Huffard said.

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