Sports Medicine research on ACL injuries published in national journals

Two members of the Gundersen Sports Medicine staff are having their work published in national journals. Both staff members' studies explored anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in athletes.

Athletic trainer Josh Cooper, MA, ATC, was one of the researchers in a study titled "Lower Limb Dominance as a Possible Etiologic Factor in Noncontact Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears." The researchers looked at the charts of 149 males and 153 females who had suffered noncontact ACL tears.

"The purpose of our study was to examine gender as well as limb dominance—that is, the limb with which you kick a ball—to see if there is a relationship between the two," Cooper explains. "While there was no statistically significant correlation between gender, the side of the injury and the dominant limb for kicking, we did find that there was a trend. Females showed a strong trend toward tearing the left ACL, which was their nondominant leg, more frequently. Because of the strong trend in females, we feel further investigation may be warranted."

Cooper's article is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in December.

Physical therapy resident Hanni Cowley, MS, PT, was published in the March issue of the Journal of Athletic Training. Her study, titled "Differences in Neuromuscular Strategies Between Landing and Cutting Tasks in Female Basketball and Soccer Athletes," explored the landing and cutting mechanics of female high school soccer and basketball players.

"We looked at the mechanics of female soccer and basketball athletes because both of these sports have high ACL injury rates involving landing and cutting," says Cowley, who conducted the study during an internship at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

"We found a difference in the way the players from each sport land and cut. Basketball players are experiencing increased forces over a shorter period of time when landing while soccer players are experiencing greater forces over a shorter period of time with cutting. The differences in landing and cutting may influence an athlete's injury risk when performing those particular skills in their sport."

Cowley says that with proper preventive training, an athlete's risk decreases. "These training programs should be implemented as early as possible," she explains, "because it's easier to teach proper mechanics than to change mechanics."

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