Medical Minute: Female Sports Injuries

With school back in session and sports in full swing, the number of injuries suffered on the field and court are likely to be on the rise in coming months.

Sports researchers say female athletes seem to be at especially high risk for knee injuries, and physicians are taking steps to reduce the problem.

The jumping and landing, the twisting and pounding.

All take a toll on athletes' knees, especially the anterior cruciate ligament.

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, supports the knee. Researchers like Scott Lephart have seen an increasing number of ACL tears in women.

Now, he's trying to understand, first, why they happen.

"Our injury prevention model starts with identifying risk factors," explains Dr. Lephard.

Some reasons are slower development of quadriceps and a reduced ability to sense where the joint is.

"So, when the knee starts getting in this position of vulnerability, there's a slower ability of the muscle to adapt to help protect it," Dr. Lephard says.

With this information, he's developed a program to reduce the risk of injury. Young athletes performed various exercises including one-legged squats, hops and jumping to help balance, strength and coordination.

"We need to encourage coaches and strength trainers to incorporate the activities that we know induce these desirable adaptations and will likely reduce injury rates."

As a volleyball player, summer agrees with the need for more education.

"You don't realize how easy you could actually do that, tear it," adds Summer Rippel.

She's lucky and hasn't had the injury, and since taking part in the study, she's one step ahead in protecting herself for the future.

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