3 May 2016
Australia has the highest incidence of anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL) injuries in the world, and sports injuries are now
the number one reason for youth admission to hospital, surgeons at
the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific
Congress (ASC) have been told in Brisbane.
Head of the Musculoskeletal Research Program at Griffith
University in Queensland Professor David Lloyd told the conference
that the Australian Football League (AFL) had supported research to
develop a range of injury prevention strategies.
"Our studies, and those of others, consistently revealed the
causes ACL injuries from which we then developed interventions,"
Prof Lloyd said.
"ACL ruptures commonly occur during non‐contact side stepping or
when landing from a mark during AFL and other sports when
"Our laboratory studies and computer simulations have shown that
specific technique and aggressive balance training prevent knee
"Using this evidence we have developed training programs to
prevent ACL and lower limb joint injuries in community level
Australian Football. In a randomised placebo control trial in over
1600 Australian Football players we were able to reduce the
relative risk of these in‐game knee injuries by 50 per cent.
Queensland Orthopaedic Surgeon, Chair of the AOA Youth Sports
Injury Prevention Working Group and knee specialist Associate
Professor Christopher Vertullo, who is also presenting to the ASC
on ACL injuries, told surgeons that ACL injury patients were at
risk of developing premature knee osteoarthritis (OA) and resultant
later severe disability, despite it being a highly preventable
"Direct health costs from ACL injury include reconstruction
surgery, non‐operative osteoarthritis management and eventual knee
replacement. The most popular Australian sports such a AFL, Rugby
League, Rugby Union, Touch Football and Netball are all high risk
for knee injury."
A/Professor Vertullo said that over 50 per cent of ACL injuries
were preventable by a regular supervised neuromuscular agility
training program, consisting of 20 minutes exposure three times per
"A National Youth Sports Injury Prevention Program would be a
fantastic health and sports Federal Government initiative that
would not only save money, but also prevent kids hurting themselves
and getting severe knee osteoarthritis in the future. World-wide,
it is increasingly recognised that youth injury is not just bad
luck, but in fact highly preventable."
"Our research has suggested that an Australian youth injury
prevention program targeting ACL injury via a neuromuscular agility
training program targeting all 12‐17 year olds and high risk 17- 25
year olds, will result in future public health cost savings of $120
million over four years.
"This doesn't include the total society costs of decrease sports
participation, and lost work," A/Prof Vertullo said. For more
information on Safe Sport for Kids visit www.safesports.org.au
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