Research reveals over 50% of ACL knee injuries are preventable

Australia has the highest incidence of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries in the world. Sports injuries are also the number one reason for youth admission to hospital.

However according to Professors at Griffith University, 50 per cent of ACL injuries could be prevented if young people followed a special training program.

Professor David Lloyd from Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland says the Australian Football League (AFL) has 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,” Professor Lloyd says. “ACL ruptures commonly occur during non‐contact side stepping or when landing from a mark during AFL and other sports when stepping.


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“Our laboratory studies and computer simulations have shown that specific technique and aggressive balance training prevent knee injury. 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 and Associate Professor Christopher Vertullo said that the neuromuscular agility training program consisted of 20 minutes exposure three times per week. “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,” he said.

“Direct health costs from ACL injury include reconstruction surgery, non‐operative osteoarthritis management and eventual knee replacement. The most popular Australian sports such as AFL, rugby league, rugby union, touch football and netball are all high risk for knee injury.

“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. Worldwide, it is increasingly recognised that youth injury is not just bad luck, but in fact highly preventable,” he said.