Janet Hall: Well each year about 300,000 athletes will tear their ACL, one of the primary ligaments in the knee, racking up five billion dollars in healthcare costs.
J. Hardison: But On Your Side investigator Bree Sison tonight reports that doctors right here in Birmingham are using cutting edge technology to prevent those season ending injuries.
Bree Sison: They practice early and they practice hard. The women soccer team at Samford University has four conference titles to show for their efforts, but they also had eight athletes with torn ACLs in three seasons.
Kaitlyn Orman: It’s more of just a shock because you know that you’re about to be side lined for, you know, six months to a year.
Bree Sison: Senior Kaitlyn Orman doesn’t like to talk about the second time she heard that dreaded pop in her knee.
Bree Sison: The instant you hear that pop, what do you think?
Kaitlyn Orman: A lot of bad words kind of going through your head and just, why, frustration, a rush of emotions. But you understand this is what happened and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Bree Sison: But what if there was something that could be done before the injury ever happened?
Brandon Evans: We really want to do as much as we can to prevent them, prevent the injuries and keep them on the field. If we keep more people on the court, on the field, our teams have a better chance of winning.
Nate Bower: Good. There we go. It’s a very fatiguing test. I mean 99% of them will be gassed by the time they’re done. They’ll be sore tomorrow.
Bree Sison: Samford’s athletic trainers teamed up with Champion Sports Medicine to evaluate their players movements via small, portable sensors that give instant feedback during an initial 20 minute test.
Nate Bower: It may show something such as they have too much knee movement occurring during the landing phase of a hop. If that’s the case and their knee is moving too far inward, we might give them some corrective exercises to use a mirror for some visual feedback, or maybe they put a band around their knees when they’re landing so it gives them a cue to push their knee outward.
Bree Sison: In a year long pilot study, the data gathered and customized workouts, worked. There were zero non-contact ACL tears among women soccer players. And a 60% reduction in lost playing time for athletes.
Nate Bower: Hop.
Bree Sison: Now physical trainer Nate Bower is hoping to replicate those results in Samford’s basketball teams.
Nate Bower: And that spreadsheet will actually tell us the amount of motion occurring in degrees, it tells the direction, so it’s all in a print out that we provide to the athlete.
Bree Sison: Bigger athletic programs and power conferences are using some forms of motion data, but Samford is the only local school using this particular system for injury prevention. The Bulldogs hope it pays off big in team wins and in insurance claims savings. Bree Sison WBRC Fox 6 News, On Your Side.