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Helping a Soccer Star with a Bad ACL Shine Again

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Female soccer players get a lot of ACL injuries. Women athletes have a 2-3 times higher rate of injuring the ACL ligament when compared to men. The ACL is the strong ligament in the knee that helps to stabilize front-back motion between the femur and tibia. Regrettably, about 2/3’rds of athletes with an ACL injury who undergo surgical reconstruction of the ACL don’t get back to playing sports by 1 year after the surgery. In addition, women are more prone to knee arthritis after ACL reconstruction surgery. So for many girls who injure their ACL while playing soccer and get it “fixed” with surgery, this is a career ending injury or one that will eventually lead to the early onset of knee arthitis. 17 year old KG injured her ACL as an elite women’s soccer player and her parents (dad is a physical therapist) immediately knew that if she underwent removal of the stretched ligament and surgical replacement, there was a high likelihood that KG’s soccer star wouldn’t shine again. They also had concerns for her future, as a thirty year old with knee arthritis has few options. As a result, they went searching for less invasive ways to treat a stretched ACL ligament. We have pioneered using c-arm fluoroscopy (the same type of imaging used for many cardiac stenting procedures) to inject stem cells into the ACL, replacing the need for more invasive surgery in many patients.

Prior to her ACL Stem Cell Regenexx-SCP procedure where stem cells and platelets were placed into her ACL and patellar tendon, the patient had difficulty climbing stairs and playing tag with friends and hence was not capable of playing soccer at an elite level. Rather than an invasive surgery where her loose ACL ligament was yanked out and surgically replaced, she underwent x-ray and ultrasound guided specific injections of stem cells and platelets into her ACL and patellar tendon. 4 weeks after the procedure, she reported 100% relief of pain. However, what got our attention was the video below. Watch KG perform a standing vertical jump to a counter-top (maybe 3 feet?). It looks like her function has returned in a big way and that KG’s soccer star will finally burn brightly again!

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