Posted on March 11 2016

ACL injuries are extremely common for professional athletes and are unfortunately all too common in young female athletes. However, you don’t have to be a full-fledged competitor to be impacted. As a physical therapist, my client load often features many patients recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery. As a result, I’m always eager to learn more about the issue and its complications. After all, learning new scientifically based methods has always piqued my interest.

christian jones

After reading Patti’s post from last month regarding her WSJ guilty pleasure, I thought I’d also share a Wall Street Journal article I stumbled upon recently titled, “Can a Sponge Fix Athletes’ Knees?”

Interesting Information Regarding ACL Injuries (according to this WSJ article):

  • There are more than 150,000 ACL ruptures annually in the US alone. Female teenagers are the hardest hit segment of the population. (Note: I have two teenage daughters, both of whom participate in competitive sports. I have a vested interest in understanding the causes and treatments for ACL injuries.)
  • Because of the heightened visibility of the dangers faced by pro NFL players, funding from the National Institutes of Health and the NFL Players Association has started to kick-start a renewed focus on better treatment options for ACL injuries.
  • ACL surgery currently requires taking a graft from another part of the leg, usually the hamstring or patellar tendon, which results in patients essentially recovering from two injuries to correct the initial ACL rupture. (In this case, 2 for 1, is NOT a good deal!)

sports medicine denverAfter several decades of research, two doctors from the Boston Children’s Hospital (Martha Murray and Lyle Micheli) think they may have found a solution that won’t require damaging another part of the patient’s leg. Can you understand why this piqued my interest?! Less trauma means decreased recovery time for my patients!

According to the article, “Instead of a graft, Murray has been inserting a sponge roughly the size of a thumb to serve as a bridge between the loose strands of the ACL and flushing it with the patient’s blood.” Dr. Murray further explained, “the clot becomes the glue through the sponge.”

While this method is very attractive due to its minimally invasive nature, it is important to note that it has only been tested on 10 humans. The initial tests were performed on pigs, and the results were promising enough to seek the approval of the FDA. Murray recently received FDA approval to test the procedure on 100 additional human subjects. Results from the first 10 surgeries should be available soon.

Just about the time we think we have perfected treatment, science surprises us with new solutions to age-old problems.

Of course, the best course of action is to avoid ACL injuries all together. However, in spite of our best safety attempts, life happens. If an ACL surgery is in your future, no matter the surgical method used – you can count on Fit Physical Therapy to get you back into your game of life. It’s what we do every day.

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Yours for scientifically based PT solutions,
Dr. Christian Jones, Littleton/Peak Clinic



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