Flipping the script on women’s ACL injury prevention & management
Dr Joanne L Parsons, Dr Sheree Bekker, Dr Stephanie E Coen
Despite 30 years and tens of thousands of research studies, there are still significant differences in sports injury rates between women and men. Concussion and ankle sprain rates remain twice as high in girls/ women1,2, and ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – which have occurred with alarming frequency in the last year– occur up to six times more frequently than in boys/ men.3,4 Severe injuries like ACL rupture can remove athletes from play for months, result in early development of osteoarthritis5, early knee replacement6, and negatively impact lifelong physical activity participation.7 To start making tangible change, we need to steer away from the overwhelming focus on biological and sex-based explanations (e.g. anatomical characteristics, hormone levels) that are part of current sports injury approaches (Table 1), and instead seriously consider the role of the social and material environments that shape the athlete in highly gendered ways.