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Tearing Up the Fields and the Knee

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health at 11:44 am | By: Susan Coyle, Contributing Columnist
TackleAn A.C.L. tear – for adults, it is one of the most feared injuries. Every twist, every impact leaves the athlete terrified that he has missed a crucial pop, that when he next puts pressure on his knee, it will fail to support him. He nurtures the joint, careful to use proper techniques, avoid dangerous contacts or come down too hard from a jump. If a tear does occur, surgery is a real possibility.  The athlete will go through hours of physical therapy, and it is likely that he will someday suffer from arthritis if not immediate joint instability. Thus the injury is, for the grown man or woman, a terrifying prospect, and for those who have not yet finished growing – for child athletes – it can be even worse.

The surgery that follows an A.C.L. tear could easily damage the growth plate, keeping a child’s leg bone from developing normally.  A once star athlete could be left with a left leg that is shorter than his right or a crooked limb, making excelling in sports considerably more difficult, and so doctors are hesitant to perform the operation. Researchers are looking for new options, safer procedures or any alternative that could keep the sports star active, but stubborn adolescents and continual risks are keeping them from complete success. And unfortunately, the number of young athletes suffering from A.C.L. tears is steadily rising.  So what should you, as a parent, do?

Basically, the only thing that you can do is remind your child to practice proper technique and to be wary of her knees.  An A.C.L. tear is frighteningly easy to incur, resulting from a quick twist, a sudden impact or an exuberant jump. And if your child is anything like the rest of the young athletes out there, she is competing year-round with an intensity that is not conducive to safety. If a knee injury does occur, it is important that it be taken care of immediately. Continuing to play on it, regardless of what has happened, will only worsen the injury. Ice, a splint, elevation and rest are the best cures along with a visit to the doctor. If it is an A.C.L. tear, you and your child must heed the physician’s advice, for he offers the best chance of getting her back on the field.

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