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For ACL Injuries, Children May Require Special Treatment

child knee_injuryA review article in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons discusses the optimal strategies for treating pediatric ACL injuries. Until the time a child’s bones have fully matured, an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the primary ligament of the knee joint, requires special consideration, care, and treatment to ensure appropriate healing and prevent long-term complications.

Jeremy Frank, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and the lead author of the study, states that the number of ACL injuries in young athletes is on the rise whether it results from increased single sport concentration, less free play, or year-round training. Previously, however, ACL injuries in children and adolescents were once considered rare.

Based on the specifics of the injury and the child’s skeletal, age, and developmental maturity article, the article suggests the ideal strategies for the treatment of pediatric ACL injuries. Among the treatment strategies discussed, for pediatric and adolescent patients with partial ACL tears, non-surgical management, such as physical therapy, bracing, and activity modification, can be considered.

For those who have surgery on the injured ligament, postoperative management may include bracing, a progressive physical therapy program emphasizing range of motion (ROM), closed-chain strengthening, and weight-bearing and activity modification. In addition, a gradual and measured return to sports activities and sports-specific maneuvers may be beneficial in treatment.

According to the report, complications from ACL surgery are rare in children when the proper surgery is performed on the right patient. Frank states “there are currently numerous safe and effective surgical techniques to reconstruct the ACL in the skeletally immature sportsperson,” which can help restore stability and prevent the early progression towards meniscal and chondral pathologies.

Source: Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons