Smartwatches have become a popular way to track our health. Using sensors, they collect data relating to sleep, fitness and heart rate. Now, after securing a $2.9 million grant, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are hoping to use these wearable sensors to assess recurring Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries.
Here, we’ll look at how wearable sensors could help, and the best ways to reduce knee reinjury risk.
What is ACL Reconstruction?
ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure to replace the damaged ligament. The ACL connects the shin bone to the thigh bone, helping to stabilise the knee. If it becomes torn or damaged, it greatly reduces stability, causing mobility issues.
The procedure is typically done via an arthroscopic method. A flexible, thin tube is passed through tiny incisions to help the surgeon see inside the knee. A graft will be used to replace the torn ligament. The surgeon will drill through the shin and thigh bone, threading the graft through before securing it with staples or screws.
An uncomplicated reconstruction typically takes an hour to perform.
What is the new study hoping to find?
The new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to assess secondary ACL injuries through wearable sensors. They are hoping the findings of the study will enable them to develop a device that can identify the risk of ACL reinjury.
In a recent study, it was discovered that a staggering 90% of athletes who suffer an ACL injury have surgery to repair it. It was also revealed that those who have had an ACL injury, were 15 times more likely to suffer an additional injury after returning to sport.
New wearable sensors may be able to help physicians identify athletes who have an increased knee reinjury risk. This could greatly help in the reduction of secondary injuries, allowing them to take preventative measures early on.
Ways to reduce reinjury risk
While reinjury rates are high, there are ways to minimise the risks. These include:
- Allowing plenty of time for healing
- Participating in physiotherapy
- Following the surgeon’s aftercare advice
The time that athletes wait before returning to sport can play a huge role in reinjury risk. Those who wait at least nine months before returning to sports tend to have the lowest reinjury rates.
Physiotherapy is great for reducing reinjury risk. It helps to strengthen the muscles and ligaments, allowing for much greater flexibility. You will also find it helps with pain reduction and mobility. Following your knee surgeon’s aftercare advice is also important, as is choosing a surgeon experienced in ACL reconstruction.
For more advice on ACL reconstruction and how you can minimise your knee reinjury risk, get in touch to arrange a consultation with Mr Jonathan Webb today.