What are the factors contributing to the differences in ACL injuries in male and female athletes?

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Pool, Justin
Day, David

ACL injuries, particularly of the female gender have become an ever increasing problem for young athletes. This rise in injury rate has been noted since the growth of the female playing sports. In 1972 Title IX of the Educational Assistance Act was enacted which requires that institutions receiving federal funding provide equal access for women in sporting activities. Since that time to the present a two to eight fold increase in female ACL injury has been noted as compared to their male counterpart.

Methodology: The purpose of this paper was to perform a systematic review of the literature and examine the cumulative data addressing the issue. This paper will provide a systematic review of the literature addressing ACL injury. Articles used included male and female athletes ranging from 12-28 years old. The articles also ranged between different sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, and skiing.

Results: Twenty-one articles were reviewed and matched the criteria using evidence based methods. It was very apparent that a majority of the articles supported the idea that females are at increased risk of ACL injury and it seems to be due to multiple factors. None of the articles mentioned any one factor being a definitive cause to female injury. Some of the articles were unclear on their outcomes.

Conclusion: The female athlete is at increased risk and many factors play a significant role in contributing to ACL injury. Much of the research points to neuromuscular factors as one of the greatest causes, but final conclusions were never made.

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A project presented to the Department of Physician Assistant of Wichita State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Physician Assistant.