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Why the PEP Program May Help Prevent ACL Injuries in the NFL


At one point in history, anterior cruciate ligament injuries were career-ending for professional football players. Even today, they can sideline a player for an entire season. On the surface, this might seem like a topic relegated only to those interested in professional American football. But it really isn't. It's a topic that should be explored at every level and age of sport.

As an orthopedic surgeon, my job on paper is to repair muskuloskeletal injuries in patients once the damage has already occurred. As a physician, my fellow colleagues and I have an obligation and strong desire to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place, when we can. So my odyssey into preventive orthopedic medicine began more than 20 years ago, when my colleagues and I began evaluating and treating ACL injuries in increasing numbers of young female athletes. What fascinated us most was that many of these injuries weren't the result of a hard fall or other blunt force trauma. Rather, they seemed to be correlated with the way the player would jump, land or decelerate. In those players with hip and leg strength deficiencies, the upper legs would turn in, cause too much strain on the ACL and sometimes result in a tear.

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