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Program prevents girls from re-injuring ACLs

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Orthopedic surgeons started noticing an alarming trend years ago: more and more young female athletes were tearing their ACLs. (WLS)

Orthopedic surgeons started noticing an alarming trend years ago: more and more young female athletes were tearing their ACLs, then re-tearing them after surgery and rehab. Dr. Bert Mandelbaum spent years figuring out why that happens in girls so much more often than it does in boys.

He's found an answer and has developed a program to keep it from happening in the first place.

Jaimie Goodwin has been a regular on "So You Think You Can Dance" for years. In that time, she's torn her ACL three times, most recently during taping last year.

"More and more, I saw myself slipping out of alignment when I was dancing and jumping, and then one night I laid down and pushed myself up and my knee just popped right out," Goodwin said.

This time, Dr. Mandelbaum helped her. His research found that five to 25-percent of young female athletes will re-tear their ACLs after surgery.

"The major factor was complex neuromuscular control. The way young girls have been programmed, hardwired to land and jump," said Dr. Mandelbaum.

Dr. Mandelbaum calls it dynamic valgus. The femur is internally rotated, pushing the leg out of alignment and overloading the knee, often tearing the ACL.

He's retraining athletes to move safely. In a demonstration, Jamie aligned her leg from hip to foot, supporting and protecting her knee.

Jaimie used Dr. Mandelbaum's "hip strategy" to rehab. It's a program of plyometrics, stretching, muscle balance, and hip strengthening that works for all kinds of athletes.

"We want them to habituate their bodies to a whole different level of function, to relearn how to land, jump, decelerate in a more safe fashion," said Dr. Mandelbaum.

Dr. Mandelbaum says it's effective. He saw an 88-percent reduction in ACL tears in year one of a study, 74-percent in year two.

"I think that alone has totally reset my foundation and I feel much safer moving in to my dance career from here," said Goodwin.

Doctor Mandelbaum's preventing injury, enhancing performance or "pep" program is a 15 to 20 minute warm-up that's been embraced by all levels of athletes, even pro soccer players with fifa. The n-f-l is taking a look at it now. Anyone can get it for free on his practice's website smog-ortho.com.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at www.ivanhoe.com.

Related Topics:
healthwomen's healthaclsurgery

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