Australia Has the Highest Rate of ACL Reconstructions in The World

A report published recently in the Medical Journal of Australia finds that Australia has the highest incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgeries in the world.

1 The ACL is an important ligament that helps stabilize the knee and prevents hyperextension of the knee joint. It is most commonly injured in sports that involve sudden stopping and changes of direction,  such as football and basketball.

From year 2000 to 2015, the annual rate of ACL repairs grew 43%. Among patients under age 25, the rate skyrocketed 74%. The problems of ACL tears go beyond time off sport, discomfort, and medical expenses. People who tear an ACL are at increased risk for osteoarthritis and disability later in life.2 

Australia’s ranking in ACL repairs may not be an entirely negative statistic. This rate measures the surgery, not the number of injuries. The first-place ranking may be due in part to the availability of healthcare in Australia relative to other countries. However, there is also some evidence that Australia’s higher incidence of ACL repair is connected to the popularity of Australian rules football among both young males and young females.1

Neuromuscular and proprioceptive training programs have been found to reduce the rate of ACL injuries up to 88%.3,4 That’s why it’s very important for coaches and athletic trainers to ensure that training includes the strategies shown to protect athletes, especially young athletes.  

In the coming months, we will publish more articles exploring ACL injury prevention.

 

References:

  1. Zbrojkiewicz D, Vertullo C, Grayson JE. Increasing rates of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in young Australians, 2000–2015. Medical Journal of Australia. 2018 May; 208 (8): 354-8.
  2. Lewis DA, Kirkbride B, Vertullo CJ, Gordon L, Comans TA. Comparison of four alternative national universal anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention programme implementation strategies to reduce secondary future medical costs. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Feb 1;52(4):277-82.
  3. Mandelbaum B, Silvers H, Wantanabe D, et al. Effectiveness of a Neuromuscular and Proprioceptive Training Program in Preventing Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Female Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2005; 33 (7): 1003-1010.
  4. Caraffa A, Cerulli G, Projetti M, et al. Prevention of anterior curciate ligament injuries in soccer – a prospective controlled study of proprioceptive training. Knee Surg, Sports Traumatol, Arthroscopy. 1996; 4: 19-21.

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