Study Shows Female Athletes More Prone to Injuries

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A recent Michigan State University (MSU) study tested the hypothesis that the incidence of injuries for girls participating in high school sports is greater than that for boys. After reviewing 8,988 reported injuries, the study confirmed that girls are more prone to injury than boys. Dr. Preston Wolin of the Neurologic & Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago (NOHC) offers some advice for keeping girls and boys safe throughout the sports season.

Chandler Wherry, an 18-year-old Chicago resident, is presently climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. But while climbing this mountain is a colossal accomplishment, it pales in comparison to the adversity Chandler has recently overcome.

After one year of struggling to compete in soccer games and tennis matches, she is finally recovering from a torn ACL. Last year, Chandler injured her knee in a soccer game, but was told it was sprained. Following the injury, Chandler played an entire tennis season, but the pain never subsided. In November of 2007, she contacted Preston Wolin, M.D., the director of the Sports Medicine program at the Neurologic & Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago, who diagnosed the problem and surgically replaced her ACL. Dr. Wolin has years of experience treating elite soccer players with the Chicago Fire and DePaul University and has a uniquely in-depth understanding of the demands the sport places on the body. It is with this perspective Dr. Wolin approaches surgery and tightens or loosens different ligaments, and anchors different parts of the joint. All to optimize that joint for that patient's sport.

Chancler spent the last six months in rehab, and is finally able to pursue her dream, the Mt. Kilimanjaro trek.

Chandler is no anomaly. In the 1990's, 1.4 million female athletes tore their ACL. That compares to a decade earlier when there were approximately 700,000 females athletes with torn ACLs. A recent Michigan State University (MSU) study, posted in the June edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine tested the hypothesis that the incidence of injuries for girls participating in high school sports is greater than that for boys. After reviewing 8,988 reported injuries, the study confirmed that girls are more prone to injury than boys. Seventeen percent of girls in softball and 13 percent of boys playing baseball experienced an injury. Twenty-seven percent of girls and 23 percent of boys playing soccer suffered from an injury. Females in basketball and soccer had a higher number of injuries requiring knee and anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, than any other male or female sport.

Dr. Wolin says that girls by design are more prone to these types of injuries.

"Women tend to rely on their quadriceps muscles whereas men are better at creating a balance between the quadriceps and hamstrings." Dr. Wolin adds, "Girls tend to land more flat footed than boys and with straighter legs, which increases the ground force and puts more pressure on their knees."

NOHC's Sports Medicine Program can be found online at:
http://www.neuro-ortho.org/orthopedic/sports-medicine.htm

Dr. Wolin offers some great advice for keeping girls, and boys, safe throughout the sports season. He says, "Increase the strength and stability of the joint, develop hamstring strength and incorporate balance and multi-joint exercises. This can be done by adding proper warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics and sports specific agilities to the athlete's training routine. For example, plyometric exercises are explosive and help to build power, strength and speed. Landing technique is also critical in preventing injury. It must be soft. Athletes should also ensure their knees are not collapsing in and together but rather tracking wide and apart. If injured, be sure to seek out a doctor that is qualified and knows your child's specific sport for a proper diagnosis of an injury."

Dr. Wolin's profile is posted on NOHC's Web site:
http://www.neuro-ortho.org/find-doctor/wolin-bio.htm

The Neurologic & Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago is the country's only freestanding acute care hospital dedicated exclusively to neuroscience and orthopedic services. It utilizes breakthrough technology and minimally invasive techniques as well as advanced procedures for neurosurgery, orthopedics, pain management, neuro-oncology, sports medicine, and rehabilitation. For more information call: 773-250-1000 or visit http://www.neuro-ortho.org.

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