According to a report published in the Journal of Athletic Training (2012; 47 [5], 589–90), anterior cruciate ligament injuries lead to about 113,000 ambulatory-care visits and about 75,000 outpatient surgical reconstructions among active youth and adults in the United States each year. A recent study suggests a potential key to minimizing ACL injury danger among young-adult athletes: neuromuscular training.

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City looked at three injury prevention strategies—and subsequent costs—for young adults: no training or screening; neuromuscular training—how to optimally bend, jump, land and pivot the knee; and universal screening, with neuromuscular training for high-risk athletes.

“Risk of injury, risk reduction from training, and sensitivity and specificity of screening were based on published data from clinical trials,” the authors explained. This information was then used to develop a modeling study that included hypothetical students.

The data, presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, revealed that neuromuscular training reduced ACL injury potential by 63%. Screening reduced it by just 40%. Neuromuscular training was deemed more cost-effective than screening. Researchers estimate that the training program could save $275 per player per season.

“Given its low cost and ease of implementation, neuromuscular training of all young athletes represents a cost effective strategy for reducing costs and morbidity from ACL injuries,” added the authors. “While continued innovations on inexpensive and accurate screening methods to identify high-risk athletes remain of interest, improving existing training protocols and implementing neuromuscular training into routine training for all young athletes [are] warranted.”

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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