New Technologies Helping to Prevent ACL Tears in Women

“It is very common for women — four to eight times more common than it is for men — to tear their ACL,” says sports medicine expert and orthopaedic surgeon Miho Tanaka, M.D., director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “But we also know that 70 percent of ACL injuries occur without collisions, meaning there are things women and girls can do to help prevent this type of injury from occurring.” A recent initiative launched by the Samford University’s women’s soccer program and Champion Sports Medicine is demonstrating how technology and prevention can make a difference in the health of athletes.  In fact, data from their efforts show Samford University women’s soccer players have seen a 100 percent reduction in non-contact ACL injures.

Part of this success is due to the integration of the latest research in movement science and 3D wearable technology.  At the beginning of the 2017 season, all members of the Samford team had incorporated two elements into their training regimen.

  • A 3D wearable sensor technology, entitled ViPerform AMI, which enables physical therapists, physicians and athletic trainers to access lab-quality data immediately, in order to assess deficiencies in functional movement that place athletes at risk for injury. According to the dorsVI website, ViPerform is a wireless sensor technology that tracks and measures how elite athletes move in real-time. The ViPerform system consists of wearable motion and muscle activity sensors that record data at 200 frames per second, and intuitive software with sophisticated algorithms that turn robust data into easy-to-read and meaningful results. ViPerform will change how trainers and coaches evaluate, screen and assess athletes.
  • Incorporated the ACL Play-IT-Safe program, a multicomponent training program that incorporates movements emphasizing strength, coordination, balance, flexibility and plyometrics.
For those not familiar with the ACL Play It Safe Program, following are more details of this progressive program:
  • Multicomponent program including strength, flexibility, balance and plyometricsPlay It Safe Program.
  • Progressive in nature with 4 levels of exercise to allow the athlete to progress in their movement training.  In addition, there is a video for each movement provided in a free app where technique with each is emphasized.
  • Performed 2-3 days per week as a part of practice and only takes 15 minutes.
  • Implemented as a dynamic warmup at the beginning of practice and also includes fatigue state
    training that is performed at the conclusion of practice.
  • Targets all high risk sports and female athletes.
  • Research is showing not only a reduction in all lower extremity injuries but also improvements in performance measures.
Understanding the factors that may predispose female athletes to both acute and chronic knee injuries can help prevent these injuries. Athletes with weak core, hip, and knee musculature can be identified early and coaches can incorporate proper instruction as well as strength, power, and balance training into existing female sports programs.  Utilizing the new technologies and programs is showing great results.
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