12:10 PM

Analysis: Serious knee injury among teen athletes grows 26%

Project Play reports on the growing number of ACL injuries in high school athletes. Among the most dreaded injuries in sports, the rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries among high school athletes has grown significantly over the past 15 years, according to a new data analysis by organizations collaborating to assess and address the problem of serious knee injuries.      

The National ACL Injury Coalition reviewed injury data for 12 major girls and boys sports over five three-year periods from 2007 to 2022, as supplied by certified athletic trainers in the High School RIO surveillance program. From period one to five, the average annual ACL injury rate grew 25.9% to 7.3 injuries per 100,000 athlete exposures. ACL injuries now represent more than 14% of all injuries involving the knee.  

The analysis offers a major update of national ACL injury figures for high school sports participants. Drawing on medical reporting from more than 100 U.S. public high schools, it is the first study since 2013 to explore the prevalence of the injury in high school sports. The analysis captured annual athletic trainer-reported knee injuries, regardless of the participant’s age or level of play in the school, and then created average annual rates for each three-year period. A 12% increase in annual ACL injury rates was also found when comparing strictly by individual year, as highlighted in the State of Play 2023 Report. 

“The negative health impacts of ACL injuries are significant, both in the short-term and the long-term,” said Joseph Janosky, DrPH, MSc, PT, ATC, lead researcher for the coalition’s analysis and director of athlete health at HSS, a founding partner of the coalition.  

“Among the most concerning long-term health issues is the development of osteoarthritis after ACL injury. It's important for high school athletes and their parents and coaches to understand that the health issues related to ACL injury can last a lifetime," Janosky explained.  

Read the full article at projectplay.org.