Which High School Sports Have Highest Risk of ACL Injury?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alex L. Gornitzky
Medical Student and
Theodore J. Ganley, M.D.
Director of Sports Medicine,
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery,
The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: Currently, more than half of all high school students participate in organized athletics, and with increasing participation the incidence of ACL injury and subsequent reconstruction are also rising. Furthermore, researchers also know that adolescent and high school athletes have a number of unique risk factors that differentially affect their ACL injury risk profile as compared to older and/or more experienced athletes. To our knowledge, however, no previous studies have described sport-specific seasonal risk for ACL tears in the high school athlete by gender and by sport. More specifically, parents and athletes currently have no available information to more accurately define what their personal risk is for such an important and devastating injury. Therefore, the purpose of our study was to pool data from across the literature in order to objectively quantify an average high school athlete’s risk for ACL injury per season across a variety of varsity-level sports. If a student is injured while playing sports and the school doesn’t deal with the injury correctly then it could make the issue worse. This is why it is important for schools to correctly identify is the player has suffered an ACL injury. If you have suffered an injury at school that wasn’t properly dealt with then you may want to check out someone like these new york personal injury lawyers to see if you can get compensation. This study will hopefully help students see the risk of them getting an injury meaning they can take measures to prevent one happening to them.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: Overall, there is an approximately 1.6 times greater rate of ACL tear per athletic exposure in high school female athletes as compared to males. On a per-season basis, the highest risk sports in females were soccer, basketball and lacrosse at 1.1%, 0.9% and 0.5% risk of ACL tear per athletic season. Comparatively, in males, the highest risk sports were football, lacrosse and soccer at 0.8%, 0.4% and 0.3% risk of ACL tear per athletic season. Looking further at the year-round, multi-sport athlete, this may correspond to either a 2.5% risk per-year or 10% risk per high school career for the female athlete who participates in soccer, basketball and lacrosse, or 1% and 4%, respectively, for the male athlete who plays football, basketball and baseball.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: To our knowledge, this is the first study to fully delineate both the overall and per-season ACL injury risk in male and female high school athletes. By quantifying ACL injury risk in such an easily digestible, simple format, athletes can enter a season better informed as to their individual risk of injury. Overall, we believe such individualized information is essential for shared parent-athlete decision making and accurate physician counseling. Moreover, by describing risk at the per-season level, this information may allow the multi-sport athlete to better estimate their individual risk for ACL injury across all of the sports they play on a per-year or per-four-year basis.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: First, while our data shows that there is significant risk for ACL injury across both genders and the majority of high school sports, it also reinforces previous studies showing that a few high-risk sports stand out with regard to ACL injury risk, including soccer, football, basketball and lacrosse. As such, this information can be utilized to better target injury-reduction programs to the most at-risk sports.

Second, we believe this personalized information is essential to the individual families and athletes seeking to make informed decisions prior to entering into high school athletics. Therefore, there may be high utility in extrapolating this model to other sports-related injuries in high school athletes, for example all knee injuries by sport and gender or the risk of shoulder injuries in overhead sports.


AAP 2015 Abstract

Sport-Specific Yearly Risk and Incidence of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears in High School Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Alex L. Gornitzky, BS, Ariana Lott, BA, Joseph L. Yellin, BA, Peter D. Fabricant, MD, MPH and Theodore J. Ganley, M.D., Department of Orthopaedics, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

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Alex L. Gornitzky and Theodore J. Ganley, M.D. (2015). Which High School Sports Have Highest Risk of ACL Injury?

Last Updated on October 30, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD