Magazine article Insight on the News

Knee Injuries Rising

Magazine article Insight on the News

Knee Injuries Rising

Article excerpt

When she heard her left knee pop while playing basketball four years ago, Katie Smrcka-Duffy assumed it was no big deal. "I thought it was just a sprain," she says, "but a few days later I couldn't straighten my leg. It hurt like hell." The pop turned out to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and Smrcka-Duffy, then a guard for Madison High School in Vienna, Va., became one of thousands of women athletes who suffer severe knee injuries.

With more females playing sports such as soccer and basketball, doctors and trainers have seen a huge increase in such injuries (the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, connects the upper leg to the lower and controls the pivoting motion of the knee) that usually require surgery and long recovery times.

A study of NCAA basketball players from 1989 to 1993 showed women were four times more likely than their male counterparts to suffer an ACL injury. A New Jersey study conducted from 1994 to 1996 showed college women were six times more likely to tear an ACL. The New Jersey study also suggests that women increase their risk of injury threefold when they move from high school to the more physical college game.

Does a woman's typically smaller bone structure put her at risk, or do women take up serious strength training and conditioning much later than men? …

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