Prevention of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Female Athletes: A Systematic Review
Rey N Ramirez; Keith Baldwin; Corinna C D Franklin
A number of reports have been published on the effectiveness and design of intervention programs for the prevention of rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in female athletes. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature to determine the effectiveness of neuromuscular training programs in preventing ACL injury in female athletes.
A systematic review was performed with use of the PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases. The search terms included “anterior cruciate ligament” and “ACL” combined with “prevention” and “intervention.” The searches included material indexed by September 30, 2013. Data concerning study design, the characteristics of participants, the details of the neuromuscular programs, the types of sports, and number of ACL ruptures were extracted from the studies. Study heterogeneity was assessed with funnel plot and Egger regression methods. Pooled effects were calculated with use of a DerSimonian-Laird random-effects model. The number needed to treat was calculated on the basis of pooled incidence data.
The risk of ACL rupture was 1.83 times higher for female athletes who did not participate in neuromuscular ACL-prevention training programs (odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.08 to 3.10; p = 0.02). In studies that focused exclusively on soccer, the risk of ACL rupture was 2.62 times higher for nonparticipating athletes (OR, 2.62; 95% CI, 1.59 to 4.32; p < 0.01). When the data were analyzed according to the timing of the intervention, no significant effects were found. In studies in which the program took place both preseason and in-season, the risk (odds ratio) of ACL rupture for nonparticipating athletes was 2.34 (95% CI, 0.82 to 6.7; p = 0.11). In studies in which the intervention took place in-season only, the risk (odds ratio) of ACL rupture for nonparticipating athletes was 1.25 (95% CI, 0.23 to 6.75; p = 0.8). The number needed to treat to prevent a single ACL rupture was 128.7 athletes. We found no significant heterogeneity among the included studies. The I value was 35.40% (p = 0.11). No significant publication bias was found in our included studies.
The results of this systematic review and meta-analysis favor a protective effect of neuromuscular training programs on the risk of ACL rupture in female athletes. This protective effect is more pronounced in soccer players. Additional research is needed to design the optimal training program.
Level of evidence
Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
Ramirez RN, Baldwin K, Franklin CC. Prevention of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Female Athletes: A Systematic Review. JBJS Rev. 2014;2(9):01874474-201409000-00005. doi:10.2106/JBJS.RVW.M.00129