The correlation between anterior cruciate ligament injury in elite Alpine skiers and their parents
Westin M, Reeds-Lundqvist S, and Werner S. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2014. April 2014.
Take Home Message: Elite-level alpine skiers with a family history of ACL injury are more likely to sustain an ACL injury themselves compared with skiers without a family history of an ACL injury.
Despite the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury being one of the most common injuries, few studies have examined possible risk factors for ACL injuries in alpine skiers. One possible risk factor may be genetics. If we can identify key risk factors for ACL injuries in this athletic population then we could develop more effective screening and training regiments to reduce the risk of ACL injury. Therefore, Westin and colleagues completed a survey study to assess whether there is a relationship between ACL injuries in Alpine ski students at the elite level and ACL injuries in their parents. Researchers invited 593 skiers who studied at Swedish ski high schools between 2006 and 2012 to participate in the current study. All participants completed a questionnaire that asked about the skiers’ personal and family history of ACL injuries. Overall, data from 418 skiers were available for analysis; among whom 65 skiers reported an ACL injury. The number of ACL injured parents was higher among ACL injured skiers (29%) compared with skiers without an ACL injury (18%). Hence, “an elite alpine skier is almost twice more likely to sustain an ACL injury if he (or she) has a parent with an ACL injury when compared to an elite alpine skier without a family history of ACL injury.”
The results of this study are of interest because it suggests there may be a genetic factor in sustaining an ACL injury among elite skiers. However, we need to keep in mind that this study did not identify a specific gene and it was not able to rule out that the link between parents and their children could be something other than genetics (e.g., environmental, skiing techniques). If we can get a better understanding of the link between ACL injuries in parents and their children then clinicians may be able to develop better screening tools and training regiments for elite alpine skiers at risk for an ACL injury. It would be valuable to clinicians for further research to be conducted on other sports to understand if this interaction is truly based on genetics or unique to alpine skiers. Ultimately, this data helps clinicians better understand one of the many factors which contribute to an ACL injury.
Questions for Discussion: How heavily do you weigh an athlete’s reported family history of ACL injuries prior to participation? After looking at the presented data, do you feel this finding is applicable to you in your current setting?
Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
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