An early ACL injury is painful, costly and can lead to long term health issues, with lasting impacts on employment and ability to exercise, says local MP Anoulack Chanthivong.
“Prevention is the key,’’ says the member for Macquarie Fields, who this week joined his parliamentary colleague, Greg Warren, to announce Labor’s program to help prevent ACL injuries in young sportspeople.
A number of local young sportspeople joined the two MPs at Coronation Park netball courts in Minto for the announcement.
Labor’s plan will implement a $2 million neuromuscular training program, aimed at reducing the incidences of ACL injuries in 12-25 year olds.
“Saving kids’ knees should be a top priority,’’ Mr Chanthivong said.
“If the government can find $2.3 billion for Sydney stadiums it should be able to allocate funds to protecting young sportspeople and preventing lifelong injuries.
“With an increasing number of children participating in competitive sport in our local area, Labor’s policy is a winner for kids’ health.”
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury is a serious and debilitating knee injury that is more common in high-risk sports, including netball, basketball, rugby league, rugby union, touch football, soccer, AFL and skiing.
Typically the ACL ruptures when someone changes direction at speed while playing a multidirectional sport.
Australia has one of the highest rates of ACL injuries in the world with approximately 72 per cent of ruptures sport related.
ACL injuries increase rapidly during the early teenage years and peak between the ages of 15 and 25.
Research shows girls and women are two to 10 times more likely to rupture their ACL when participating in high-risk sports.
Costly knee reconstructions are most often required following this injury and the person can suffer lifelong consequences; almost all athletes who tear their ACL are at increased risk of osteoarthritis later in life.
Despite sport related knee injuries in Australia increasing by five per cent a year, ACL injury is largely preventable.
Labor’s prevention program is designed to deliver neuromuscular training consisting of warm-up, balance, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics (jump training) and sport specific agility training through a smart app.
Neuromuscular training programs are proven to prevent 50-80 per cent of ACL injuries by teaching the body better habits for knee stability by training how the knee moves, especially when jumping, landing and pivoting.
Trials have shown that a youth sports injury prevention program would reduce the risk of ACL injuries in females by 52 per cent and 85 per cent in males.
Labor’s ACL injury prevention plan will incorporate a smart app 15 minute pre-training program for high-risk sports as well as a Training the Trainer program to run alongside the smart app.
The program will also have the capability to follow up with teams and track the app’s use.
Similar programs are currently delivered to professional athletes.
Sporting bodies already signed up include the AFL, AFL Doctors Association, FFA, Netball Australia, NRL, Touch Football, ARU, Basketball Australia, Australian Physiotherapy Association, and Arthritis Australia.
“Those who suffer ACL injuries often require surgery and an extended period off work or school.
“That creates financial, mental health and physical health stress for both the individual and those who care for them.
“This 15 minute pre-training smart app is a cost-effective and practical solution that will help curb the rising rate of ACL injuries.”