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US service academies to collaborate with UNC, Andrews Air Force Base, Duke in knee injury study

CHAPEL HILL -- The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force academies - fierce rivals on the sports field - soon will cooperate on a $2.8-million study of risk factors for a common knee injury among athletes.

The study, led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Injury Prevention Research Center, Duke University and Andrews Air Force Base, will enroll 4,800 male and female cadets during a four-year period, beginning at their summer entry into the academies.

The prospective cohort study will focus on human movement risk factors involved in injuries to the knee's anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The ACL is one of two ligaments that cross within the knee joint to prevent the leg bone (tibia) and thighbone (femur) from slipping forward or backward out of the joint. Most ACL injuries are sports-related, and most occur when there is no direct physical contact between athletes.

Studies have shown that the injury rate to the knee's ACL is up to eight times higher for women than it is for men, particularly in sports requiring stopping and jumping tasks, as in basketball, soccer and volleyball. Such injuries often require surgery and prolonged rehabilitation.

The study findings will offer a basis for shaping effective ACL injury prevention training programs for individuals engaged in vigorous physical activity, including male and female athletes.

"This is the largest prospective cohort study put in place to address risk factors for ACL injury," said the study's principal investigator, Dr. Stephen W. Marshall, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at UNC's School of Public Health and assistant professor of orthopedics at UNC's School of Medicine.

He also is co-chief of biostatistical services at the Injury Prevention Research Center, which is hosting the study.

"The study promises to give us exciting new information based on science that can be used to refine existing ACL injury prevention programs. It wil
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Contact: L.H. Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-843-9687
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
6-Apr-2005


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