Title Nine has evened the playing field when it comes to men and women's sports. But when it comes to on the field knee injuries, it's pretty one-sided against the girls.
You may recognize Rachel Wilson as the first baseman for the Sioux Falls Impact softball team. What you may not know, is that she's been recovering from a nasty injury during the last game of the summer.
"I tore my ACL, my MCL, and shredded my Medial and Lateral Meniscus." Said Wilson.
Rachel blew out her knee by simply crossing home plate, but Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Erik Peterson with CORE Orthopedics, says she also crossed the position of no return.
"That involves landing with straight knees, knees close together, and not hunched at the hips." Said Dr. Peterson.
4 out of every 5 ACL tears are like Rachel's, where they result from changing direction or landing wrong, not from physical contact. Ligament repairs are tricky because knee tissue can't heal on it's own. Just a few years ago Rachel's injury would have been a career killer, but advances in arthroscopic surgery will get her back on her feet and on the field.
"The operation done during a typical ACL surgery is to reconstruct or replace the torn ACL and that usually involves taking some tissue, borrowing some tissue from elsewhere in the knee. In Rachel's case her hamstring tendons." Said Dr. Peterson.
Tearing the ACL is an injury affecting more and more female athletes. This is largely in part due to increased participation in women's sports in the past few years. While the injury can impact both men and women, it's the latter who are tearing their ACL's more often.
"Compared with their male counterparts, women are 4-6 times more likely to tear their ACL given a similar sport." Said Dr. Peterson.
Dr. Peterson says some doctors point to the fact that women's knees are just built differently than a man's. Others argue hormones play a role, but at this point they're all just theories.
Rachel is about three and a half months removed from her surgery. She was initially in protection mode, but now Dr. Peterson is trying to get her ready to get back in the game.
"At first it was a lot of bending and straightening making sure my knee would lock and then it was walking making sure it was strong enough and then now I'm up to running. In a few weeks I'll be able to cut and jump and do basically everything I was able to do before." Said Wilson.
Rachel says she's learned a valuable lesson from her injury, that she's not invincible. But thanks to Dr. Peterson, an ACL tear won't end her playing career. Come next season, she'll once again be ready to take the field.
"I will! Definitely!" Said Wilson.
Rachel also plays basketball for Sioux Falls O'Gorman and is targeting a return to the court in January. Judging by her rehab so far, she just might be ready by late December.
For more information about CORE Orthopedics or ACL Surgery call 877-AT-AVERA.