Female athletes are 2-9 times more likely to sustain an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury than male athletes, with 85% occurring without contact.

Fortunately, this number can be reduced by the implementation of ACL injury-preventative training programs (PTPs). In a recent article published by the Journal of Athletic Training, Dr. Miho Tanaka et al. evaluated female collegiate athletes’ knowledge of ACL injuries, as well as their experience with and awareness of PTPs.

The status of PTP implementation among female collegiate athletes was determined through a survey that assessed the number of athletes who had previously performed a PTP, were aware they existed, their willingness to perform one daily and factors associated with willingness to perform. Previously, there had been no reports on PTP implementation, which are needed to enhance injury-reductions rates and plan outreach efforts.

440 female NCAA athletes in 20 sports during the 2017-2018 academic year were surveyed. The survey asked for participant’s age, sport, position, college and NCAA division. It included true/false questions on knowledge of ACL injuries, as well as if participants had heard of, been educated on or currently perform a PTP. They then rated their interest in performing a PTP daily.

The survey revealed only a small number of participants had previously heard of or performed a PTP, though the majority did know they were at an increased risk of ACL injury and were interested in performing one daily. Respondents were more likely to be familiar with PTPs if they had sustained an ACL injury themselves, had a teammate who had, completed at the Division I level, or participated in sports deemed high risk for ACL injury. Overall, though, rates of exposure to PTPs were found to be low.

PTPs remain a cost-effective strategy to address the high rate of ACL injuries in women. Although, studies affirming that PTPs decrease risk of ACL injuries have been around for 20 years, implementation and awareness remains low. A greater collaboration between physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists and coaches is needed to address the lack of knowledge surrounding PTPs and to monitor athlete compliance. Tanaka et al. recommend routinely assessing awareness of PTPs to determine optimal methods for widespread implementation.

Read more from the Journal of Athletic Training.

Tanaka MJ, Jones LC, Forman JM. Awareness of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury-Preventive Training Programs Among Female Collegiate Athletes. J Athl Train. 2020 Apr;55(4):359-364. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-150-19. Epub 2020 Mar 11.