THS Athletes Face Ligamentous Knee Injuries Part II

The following are profiles of the THS athletes that have suffered ligamentous knee injuries:

Albert Kirpach is an 18 year old Senior that has played football for two years.  His injury, two torn menisci and a torn ACL in his left knee, was the result of a collision with another player during a home game.  

When asked about his medical history Albert said that he “ never had [any] serious injuries before to this one” and when asked if he is a multisport athlete he replied “Yes, I am. But football was the only sport which I played for Talawanda High School. I prefer many types of sports that Talawanda cannot offer”.  

It is widely known that working out every part of one’s body is necessary in achieving overall strength, and fortunately, according to Albert, the football coaching staff at Talawanda has emphasized this.  

Having no serious injuries previous to this one and considering the intensive and well-rounded training regimen that was described to me, it’s safe to assume that this injury had more to do with the impact of the collision and possibly the surface he was playing on rather than his level of fitness did.  Without stepping on any doctor’s toes or making any medical diagnoses,  I’d like to follow a hunch and further investigate the turf field because every single one of the knee injuries in this school that’ve required surgery have occurred on turf.

Luke Croucher is an 18 year old senior who has been playing football for 5 years. He tore his left knee LCL off his fibula completely and had a partial left leg hamstring tear after taking a hit from an opposing player at Mt. Healthy High School on an astroturf field.  

When asked about his medical history, Luke said that he had never had any type of injury this serious before and then when asked if he was a multisport athlete he replied, “I am a multisport athlete. I have played hockey my whole life and quit playing baseball my sophomore year.”

Luke trains 5-6 days a week. When questioned on what muscle groups he focused on he replied, “Usually focused on pectoral, rear delt, shoulders, biceps, and triceps while doing upper body lifts. Focused on hamstrings, quads, and calfs mostly while lifting lower body. I also included abdominal workouts daily, as long as sprints for cardiovascular.” Then when asked about the training regimen for football Luke commented, “The football team’s strength and conditioning program is focused around certain muscle groups that are used in the sport, but that includes the strengthening of almost our entire body, as it is required on the field.” Albert Kirpach, another injured player said much of the same that Luke did and that working out the whole body is crucial to overall strength.

Could the injuries be somewhat to do with the difference of a astroturf field and a grass field?

Charita Quitano is a 17 year old who has been playing soccer since she was in the 2nd grade. She tore her ACL and had cartilage damage in a game at Mt. Healthy High School. Charita said, “While going against a defender in a game, I attempted to cut around her and got pushed against which caused me to mis-plant my foot and then I heard a pop and dropped to the ground as it felt like my knee was ripping apart.” This led to her having surgery and having the quad tendon taken for reconstruction for the new ACL and replaced the torn one. They also scoped through her LCL, MCL, and PCL to make sure they weren’t torn too.

When asked about her medical history, Charita said that she had never had any serious injuries and this was her first surgery and when asked if she was a multisport athlete she answered, “I play soccer and I do track and field.” Soccer is a sport that relies heavily on the legs as she pointed out when talking about the training and conditioning involved preparing for the season. “We started around June and it was almost every day besides Sunday, we did a lot of running not too much lifting, but when we did we focused on legs mostly.”

Charita is the third soccer player to tear her ACL while attempting to cut around another player and also occurred on an astroturf field just like the other athletes.

Samantha (Sam) Sikora is a 16 year old Junior who has been playing soccer for 11 years.  Being a multi-sport athlete in both track and soccer provides a well rounded balance of training and strengthening in all areas of her body. Unfortunately, only five games into the soccer season Sam tore her right ACL in half.

When asked about her medical history, Sam reported that she had never been seriously injured before this took place.  “We had practice every day but Sunday… in soccer you’re always working on making your legs strong”.  With light conditioning beginning in early spring and intense workouts all throughout the summer and fall season, Sam’s overall strength was not a limiting factor in her right knees performance.  Her injury occurred on an astroturf field at Middletown High School and it was a self inflicted injury.  

The act of cutting and pivoting in a sport relies heavily on the ligaments in both knees and when Sam suddenly “stepped in front of a player” she heard a popping sound and fell down.  The pain subsided after a second or two and she tried to stand up again.  Her leg proceeded to give out and she needed assistance off of the field.  

ACL tears are very common among both soccer players and football players.  However, studies on ACL injuries as a result of soccer on astroturf as opposed to a grass field show no increase in the number while football does (Balazs, G. C., Pavey,  G. J., Brelin, A. M., Pickett, A., Keblish, D. J., Rue, J.P. “Risk of ACL…Systematic Review”).  The fifth student at Talawanda that has torn her ACL and Meniscus this past year is yours truly.  Mine was very similar to Sam’s in that it occurred on turf and it was (unintentionally) self-inflicted.  One of the most alarming statistics that I’ve read while researching knee injuries in preparation for this article is that over 250,000 ACL injuries occur every year and “they are almost exclusively happening to athletes” (“ACL Injury, ACL tear, ACL surgery Souryal).  Unfortunately there aren’t many broad preventative measures that can be taken regarding knee injuries, ACLs in particular.  This is because of the varying sizes and structures of people’s knees.  One of the few things that can be controlled though is how people land after jumping.  Perhaps in educating ourselves, athletes and coaches can prepare themselves by including proper landing form in training.  After a while it becomes muscle memory.  Maybe if an athlete is taught how to jump and land properly, we can efficiently reduce a potential cause of future injury.

Read more in Part I of this feature at:

Feature Photo Credit:  Austin Hibbard

see more of his photos of Talawanda athletic fields in the snow here:

Talawanda: A Winter Wonderland