Female basketball players tend to suffer from ACL injuries two to 10 times more than male counterparts. (HANAA' TAMEEZ / THE STATESMAN)
Female basketball players tend to suffer from ACL injuries two to 10 times more than their male counterparts. (HANAA’ TAMEEZ / THE STATESMAN)

Every other week, Ruchi Shah, a junior biology major, will take a look at Stony Brook-related science and research news.

Athletes are often seen as the epitome of health, but repetitive actions in sports such as basketball can take a serious toll on the body.

Due to the repeated running and jumping motions, a basketball player’s body, especially the ankles and knees, is put under stress on a daily basis.

“Ankle and foot sprains are routinely treated, as well as Achilles tendon injuries, shin splints and stress fractures,” Dr. Stuart B. Cherney, an orthopedic surgeon and the head team physician at Stony Brook University, said.  “Runner’s knee and Jumper’s knee develop from repetitive low level trauma and more serious injuries may involve ligament (ACL) or
meniscus tears.”

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According to Cherney, Stony Brook University basketball players “basically fall into the typical injury patterns as seen in the NCAA statistics.”

Female basketball players tend to suffer from ACL injuries two to 10 times more than their male counterparts, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

This difference, according to the research by Director of Sports Medicine Research at Ohio State University Dr. Timothy Hewett, is due to differences in knee and trunk anatomy and placement in women that results in differences in the torque produced by the body while
playing basketball.

According to Cherney, a prevention program was designed  at Stony Brook University to help mitigate the higher rate of ACL injuries in women.

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In an effort to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries, the university utilizes a coalition of physicians, athletic trainers, health care professionals and specialists.

“Sports medicine and the treatment of athletes have greatly evolved over the years,” Cherney said. “The concept is simple—how to treat injuries and medical problems in a way which allows the safest and quickest way back into competition.”

If an injury requires surgery, doctors prefer arthroscopic surgery “because it is less invasive and produces consistent results,” Cherney said.

Common procedures used in the past involved opening up the injured area, but arthroscopic procedures are now preferred because they reduce the size of incisions.

According to the AAOS, arthroscopic surgery utilizes small incisions through which cameras the size of a pencil and tools are placed to view, repair and remove damaged tissue.

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In the case of soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains and muscle injury, Cherney said, “platelet-rich plasma injections have been found to speed up healing.”

In this procedure, blood is drawn from the patient and platelet cells are activated. The cells are then injected back in the area of injury, where they stimulate “growth factors that recruit and increase the proliferation of reparative cells,” according to the Hospital for Special Surgery.

According to Cherney, the factors that play a role in the injury rates of athletes are multifaceted and include the type of playing surfaces, the composition of turf and the quality and fit of footwear and protective equipment.

In addition to hiring equipment specialists to help fit athletes, “the wood court in the new arena is laid on a special shock absorbing surface which will hopefully minimize shin splints, stress fractures and back injuries,” Cherney said.

As scientists and physicians in the athletic community are beginning to better understand prevention, diagnosis and treatment of injuries, the care of athletes is also improving.

“Our ability to perform major orthopedic procedures via minimally invasive techniques has changed the face of orthopedic surgery,” Cherney said. “The use of biologics is in its infancy and includes utilizing cells and substances found in the body which can completely heal injuries with limited or no surgery.”

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