NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has announced Labor’s program to help prevent ACL injuries in young sportspeople, which can have lifelong impacts.

Mr Foley was joined today by young athletes at Coleman Park, home of the Lidcombe Waratah FC, to announce Labor’s $2 million neuromuscular training program, aimed at reducing the incidences of ACL injuries in 12-25 year olds.  

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury is a serious and debilitating knee injury that is more common in high-risk sports, including netball, basketball, rugby league, rugby union, touch football, soccer, AFL and skiing.  Typically the ACL ruptures when someone changes direction at speed while playing a multidirectional sport.

Australia has one of the highest rates of ACL injuries in the world with approximately 72 per cent of ruptures sport related.  ACL injuries increase rapidly during the early teenage years and peak between the ages of 15 and 25. Research shows girls and women are two to 10 per times more likely to rupture their ACL when participating in high-risk sports.

Costly knee reconstructions are most often required following this injury and the person can suffer lifelong consequences; almost all athletes who tear their ACL are at increased risk of osteoarthritis later in life.

Despite sport related knee injuries in Australia increasing by five per cent a year, ACL injury is largely preventable.

Labor’s prevention program is designed to deliver neuromuscular training consisting of warm-up, balance, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics (jump training) and sport specific agility training through a smart app.

Neuromuscular training programs are proven to prevent 50-80 per cent of ACL injuries by teaching the body better habits for knee stability by training how the knee moves, especially when jumping, landing and pivoting.

Trials have shown that a youth sports injury prevention program would reduce the risk of ACL injuries in females by 52 per cent and 85 per cent in males.

Labor’s ACL injury prevention plan will incorporate a smart app 15 minute pre-training program for high-risk sports as well as a ‘Training the Trainer’ program to run alongside the smart app. The program will also have the capability to follow up with teams and track the app’s use.

Similar programs are currently delivered to professional athletes. Sporting bodies already signed up include the: AFL, AFL Doctors Association, FFA, Netball Australia, NRL, Touch Football, ARU, Basketball Australia, Australian Physiotherapy Association, and Arthritis Australia.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

An early ACL injury can change the course of someone’s life and has lasting impacts on future employment and ability to exercise.

“Prevention is key here. While our elite athletes already take part in similar pre-training programs, the biggest impact could be made at the grass roots level for young sportspeople.

“Saving kid’s knees should be a top priority. If the government can find $2.3 billion for Sydney stadiums – it should be able to allocate funds to protecting young sportspeople and preventing lifelong injuries.”

Quote attributable to Shadow Minster for Sport Lynda Voltz

“Almost half of all hospitalised injuries for young people occur during sport or leisure activities.

“It’s estimated that for every 100,000 high-risk youth trained, 3,764 lifetime ACL ruptures, 842 lifetime cases of osteoarthritis and 585 total knee reconstructions are prevented.

“Smartphone technology is the way to reform how people get access to sport and fitness resources. Young people crave direction for health and fitness, but they do not have a credible source for their information or fitness plans.”