In what she hopes can be a model for the rest of Howard County, Wilde Lake athletic trainer Allison Hammond has launched a program aimed at reducing the occurrence of anterior cruciate ligament injuries for female athletes at the school.
The program, patterned after one developed by the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation, consists of about 24 activities performed by athletes at least twice a week in lieu of their normal warm-ups.
“It’s strengthening, stretching, and then we really try to focus on the way our feet land. We don’t want to land hard – we want a little bit of give,” said Hammond, who is assigned to the school by Professional SportsCare & Rehab. “Women are more likely to tear their ACL … so anything to prevent something like that is definitely necessary and needed in the high school setting.”
While studies have shown that female soccer players have as much as eight times the risk as their male counterparts of suffering a career-threatening knee injury, the Santa Monica group (www.acl prevent.com) said that its training regimen can reduce those injuries two- to fourfold.
Wildecats first-year girls soccer coach Phil Webster first became interested in the idea after seeing a presentation on the subject at a national coaches meeting. Last year, when he served as an assistant, the team had two players suffer ACL injuries – Faryn Watts and Toria Shepherd.
When parents in the school’s athletic booster program called for action, the program became a reality.
“This is something that we’ve been doing, and slowly escalating it, since we started training this year,” Webster said. “They tried to make it something that you could incorporate into your training as much as possible.”
Hammond worked to refine the program with Dr. Craig Bennett, chief of sports medicine at the University of Maryland Department of Orthopedics. Together, they modified the exercises, which originally were geared toward soccer, to work for other sports.
Though it is too early to determine the program’s effectiveness, Hammond is hopeful. She has shared details with fellow athletic trainers, in hopes that far fewer county athletes will have to face the prospect of potentially career-ending knee injuries.