BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
It’s a story heard far too often in soccer - a player has torn their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will be out for 9-12 months. In female soccer players specifically, the risk of sustaining an ACL injury is 2-3 times greater than males. The females who are able to return to soccer after ACL reconstruction (ACLR) also face an increased risk of sustaining a second ACL injury, whether to their ipsilateral or contralateral knee. Subsequently, many athletes quit soccer following an ACL injury, citing fear of re-injury and lack of trust in the knee.
This prospective cohort study followed female soccer player with a primary, unilateral ACLR and healthy matched controls from the same soccer teams. The main objectives were to compare the rate of new knee and non-knee injuries, the proportion of players who quit soccer, self-reported activity levels, and satisfaction with activity and knee function in those with and without a history of ACLR.
Currently active female soccer players who were 16-25 years old at the time of surgery were recruited to form the ACLR group. After identifying injured players, healthy controls (no history of ACL injury or ACLR and no other current injuries) were recruited by coaches from the same teams as the injured players. Enrolling injured and uninjured players from the same teams ensured that the two study groups were as similar as possible, limiting the influence of possible confounding factors such as soccer exposure, age, and playing position.
Over 2 years, the players completed web-based questionnaires at the beginning, middle, and end of the soccer season. The questionnaires captured the players’ participation in soccer, any new injuries, activity level (Tegner Activity Scale), knee function (International Knee Documentation Committee Subjective Knee Form), satisfaction with current activity levels, satisfaction with knee function, and ability to play soccer at the pre-injury level.
A total of 117 players with a previous ACLR and 119 healthy controls were included in the study. The mean time from surgery in the injured group was 43.7±8.7 months (~3.5yrs). Total exposure to soccer was 149 player-years for those