Whether you are a [tag]college baseball coach[/tag] or [tag]baseball[/tag] [tag]coach[/tag] for any age team, you need a working knowledge of common [tag]sports injuries[/tag]. [tag]ACL sprains[/tag] are one of those injuries.
Description: The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament, which works together with the posterior cruciate ligament to stabilize the knee. The ACL is on the front outside of the knee. Together with the PCL, it forms an X. The ACL is most often torn or sprained when the feet remain planted on the ground but the knee twists or bends. ACL tears can occur when an athlete changes direction suddenly, twists without moving the feet, or misses a landing from a jump. A loud pop will generally accompany an ACL injury. After the pop will be immediate swelling, decreased range of motion, and decreased knee stability.
Prevention: Unfortunately, most ACL injuries are sudden and unpreventable. They often occur when an athlete is hit, stops suddenly, or during weight transfers in skiing. The only prevention tool is to maintain strong quadriceps and hamstring muscles. This strengthens the ligaments and provides stability during an activity. Leg stretching activities also help keep the ligament loose and flexible.
Treatment and Recovery: All activity should be stopped when the ACL is injured. The athlete often will not be able to put weight on the injured leg and should follow the RICE pattern for immediate relief. This injury is serious, though, and requires medical attention. Athletes should get to a hospital for X-rays. The doctor will probably prescribe a knee brace to stabilize the knee. Depending on the severity of the sprain, doctors may recommend immobilizing the knee for some time, wrapping it to provide support, or surgery. For complete ACL tears, reconstructive surgery is needed and rehabilitation is long and intense.
Activity can be resumed when the athlete is cleared by a health care professional, and after all pain is gone. The legs should be of equal strength when the athlete returns to activities, so this may require physical therapy of the injured leg to rehabilitate it.