Primary-care sports medicine physician Gloria Cohen, M.D. and orthopedic sports medicine specialist Katherine Vadasdi, MD want parents, their daughters and coaches to know about the unique risks girls have for potentially serious injuries. At the lecture last night at the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center, titled “The Female Athlete and Preventing Sports Injuries in Girls”, the two doctors spoke in depth about the “epidemic of sports injuries in girls” and what can be done to prevent them. The event was presented by the Old Greenwich-Riverside Community Center (OGRCC) and the ONS Foundation for Clinical Research and Education.
According to Dr. Cohen, who is also primary care team physician for Columbia University and a member of the 2010 Winter Olympic Host Physician Team, stress fractures are a major concern and are often overlooked or minimized by the athlete. She likened a stress fracture to breaking a plastic credit card by bending it back and forth until it weakens so much that it finally breaks. “If you see warning signs of a stress fracture, take heed and stop playing,” said Dr. Cohen, “Stress fractures can lead to very serious injuries that can even require surgery to repair. ” Dr. Cohen also spoke about injuries to growth plates and the importance of proper nutrition in adolescents to insure that the young skeleton develops properly. “The best way to get enough calcium and iron is through a proper diet,” she explained.
Dr. Vadasdi turned the focus of the evening to the alarming rate of ACL injuries. “Studies indicate that young women experience up to eight times more ACL injuries than men, and 70% of ACL injuries occur as a result of a sports injury,” she said. “The ACL is the ligament in the center of the knee that helps to stabilize the joint. It can come under particular stress from landing, planting and turning movements.” She explained that the generally wider pelvis in the female body tends to increase the angle of the hip to the knee. Without proper training, girls often bring their knees together in a knock-kneed position as they land and plant. This causes particular stress on the ACL, increasing the risk for it to rupture. There are other anatomical and hormonal factors that play a role as well.
The doctors directed the audience to get detailed guides to conditioning and strengthening exercises from the ONS Foundation website, http://www.onsf.org/. The talk was then opened up for questions from the audience.