By Ryan Fitzgerald & Megan Palumbo – Co-Editor-in-Chief & Sports Editor
Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, injuries are extremely common among athletes. The anterior cruciate ligament is part of the central knee joint that keeps the knee stable while holding the femur and tibia together.
When an athlete tears their ACL it’s caused by non-contact mechanisms, like stop- ping quickly, cutting sharply, or landing and changing direction with both feet planted.
“The first thing to do if you suspect it’s an ACL injury is to see an orthopedic doctor,” said Chris Noyes, Lasell’s head athletic trainer. “The doctor uses imaging like an MRI to confirm that it is an ACL injury. The next step is surgery, and then an athlete goes through a [rehabilitation process],” said Noyes.
A common form of rehab is neuromuscular training. This focuses on working the hips for two legged drills, while working on ground reaction force during single legged and bal- ancing exercises. Training like this helps with landing and loading weight throughout the body, without favoring one leg.
Female athletes are at a greater chance to sustain an ACL injury than male athletes during the same high-risk sport. Women have wider hips and less developed thigh muscles, so the ACL acts as the primary stabilizer for the knee according to Hughston.com
When playing high intensity sports sometimes the ACL can’t bear all the forces put on it, so it tears easier than men’s where they need more pressure applied to tear their ACL.
Junior Maria Vasiliadis plays on the soccer and lacrosse teams and tore her ACL while playing basketball in high school.
“The recovery time was roughly six months long, full of hard work in physical therapy and doing at-home exercises,” said Vasiliadis. “It was really tough gaining the bend and mobility back in my knee while staying positive.”
From the table to strength, conditioning, and running, it takes a year before the athlete fully recovers according to Noyes.
“The biggest part of the injury is the mental aspects,” said Noyes. “It is a traumatic inci- dent and when the athlete comes back to sports they’re afraid – even a tweak in the knee can set them off.”
Noyes explained that the injury is sport-related and is most common in foot- ball. He has only had to deal with a handful of ACL injuries while at Lasell; on the women’s soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse teams.
With the help from experienced trainers, these players were able to get back out on the field with certainty and confidence they wouldn’t suffer any setbacks.