There are calls for a greater focus on agility training in kids sports to curb an alarming rise in serious knee injuries among teenagers and young adults.
Research reveals Australia has the highest reported rates of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the world.
Over the past 15 years, the rate of ACL injuries among Australians younger than 25 has risen by 70 per cent, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.
The study by researchers at Griffith University, The University of Sydney and Knee Research Australia shows among this age group almost 200,000 primary ACL reconstructions were performed in Australia between 2000 and 2015 at an estimated cost of $142 million a year.
Lead researcher, Associate Professor Christopher Vertullo, director of Knee Research Australia, says longer sporting seasons, more intense training, a higher level of competition and a lack of free play contribute to the concerning rise in injuries.
ACL rupture is a common injury in sports such as AFL, rugby, netball, basketball, soccer or skiing.
In the short term, the consequences of an ACL rupture include the inability to participate in sport, reconstructive surgery, and prolonged rehabilitation, said Professor Vertullo.
“In the long term … almost all individuals who tear an ACL are at increased risk of osteoarthritis and disability, and this risk is substantially increased by concurrent meniscal injury,” he said.
Prof Verutullo warns the increasing incidence of ACL injury in the under 25s is an emerging public health problem that warrants the implementation of federally funded injury prevention program.