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Knee Injury in Football - the Likeliness

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Knee injuries in football are the most common, especially those to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) and to the menisci (cartilage of the knee). These knee injuries can adversely affect a player's longterm involvement in the sport. Football players also have a higher chance of ankle sprains due to the surfaces played on and cutting motions. Shoulder injuries are also quite common and the labrum (cartilage bumper surrounding the socket part of the shoulder) is particularly susceptible to injury, especially in offensive and defensive linemen. In addition, injuries to the acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) or shoulder are seen in football players.

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One possible reason for this discrepancy is the age and sport specificity of our study's population in comparison with others', which generally focus on collegiate athletes, sex-comparable sports only, or single sports. Potential explanations for the observed differences could include the fact that collegiate athletes generally have more body control and are more skilled at their sports, the pace and style of high school level play may leave athletes at higher risk of a contact injury, or athletes predisposed to ACL injury may be self-selected or medically selected out of sports before college. Additionally, the variety in study designs, data sources, and definitions of player-player contact may explain differences among studies. Another possible explanation is that, compared with prior studies, our data are skewed by the high frequency of football ACL injuries, which were predominantly caused by contact. Although further research is needed to fully understand contact-related ACL injuries, because player-player contact is a risk factor that can be reduced via rule changes, enforcement of existing rules, increased emphasis on sportsmanship, and teaching proper sport-specific skills, efforts should be made to reduce the risk of player-player contact-related ACL injuries without affecting the underlying purpose or culture of individual sports. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are among the most devastating injuries a young athlete can sustain, given the frequent need for surgical repair and extensive rehabilitation, as well as the potential for long-term health problems such as osteoarthritis

Although frequently thought of as a concern for female athletes, ACL injuries are not limited to female athletes. A certain endemic level of ACL injury will always be associated with sports, yet an increased commitment should be made to reduce the incidence and severity of ACL injuries sustained by high school athletes.

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Knee injury rates and patterns differed by sport with the highest rates among those with significant player-player contact, pivoting, jumping, and landing. Despite noteworthy gender-based differences in knee injury patterns, knee injury rates were highest among football players

Meniscal injury rates were higher and MCL injury rates were more than twice as high as in any other sport. The burden of knee injuries among football players is even greater considering that 1,109,836 US high school students participated in football during the 2010/11 academic year – more than any other sport including boys’ and girls’ basketball (Adirim TA, 2003). Thus, rather than assembling a nationally representative sample, exposure and injury data for these sports were collected from a convenience sample of US high schools with ATs. While all participating schools were asked to report for at least ten sports, with an objective of having 100 schools reporting for each sport, schools with some of the less nationally popular sports (i.e., ice hockey, lacrosse) were enrolled even if they could not report for all sports (Darrow CJ, Collins CL, 2005). If an AT from a convenience sample school also reported information for athletes in one of the original 9 sports, these data were included in the overall convenience sample data but were not included in weighted national estimates.

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Overall, the incidence of sudden cardiac death in the NCAA is roughly 1 in every 40,000 student-athletes per year

Although cardiac conditions are the leading medical cause of sudden death in all sports, complications due to sickle cell trait while participating in conditioning are the leading cause in football players.

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Adirim TA, Cheng TL. Overview of Injuries in the Young Athlete. Sports Med. 2003;33(1):75–81.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sports-related injuries among high school athletes--United States, 2005-06 school year. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(38):1037–40.

Darrow CJ, Collins CL, Yard EE, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of severe injuries among United States high school athletes: 2005-2007. Am J Sports Med. 2009;37(9):1798–805.

de Loes M, Dahlstedt LJ, Thomee R. A 7-year study on risks and costs of knee injuries in male and female youth participants in 12 sports. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2000

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