By Jordana Bieze Foster
Despite advances in prevention and intervention, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are no less common among professional soccer players now than in 2001, according to research from Sweden.
Perhaps even more concerning, the study found that, although 134 players who completed rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction returned to training, 4% suffered a re-rupture before returning to match play, and only 65% of the 104 players with complete follow-up data were still playing at an elite level three years later.
Investigators from Linkoping University analyzed ACL injury data for 78 men’s professional soccer clubs between 2001 and 2015; players who suffered ACL injuries were tracked for three years after returning to training.
During the study period, 157 ACL injuries were recorded; the annual injury rate increased on average by 6%, although that increase was not statistically significant. Players who had ACL reconstruction took a median of 6.6 months to return to training and 7.4 months to return to play. The findings were epublished in late March by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Walden M, Hagglund M, Magnusson H, Ekstrand J. ACL injuries in men’s professional football: a 15-year prospective study on time trends and return-to-play rates reveals only 65% of players still play at the top level 3 years after ACL rupture. Br J Sports Med 2016 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print]