Southern Lehigh Senior Madelene McDonald is a star on the basketball court. But when she's playing, there's more on her mind than just scoring a basket.
"It's a huge fear for me and for everyone else on the court," shared Madelene.
A tear to the ACL can sideline an athlete for 8 months to a year. It's something Madelene wants to avoid.
"In my three years playing for Southern Lehigh so far I've had four teammates go down with ACL injuries."
The ACL helps maintain knee stability. According to the America Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament have more than tripled in the last 13 years. Tim Miller, Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist with St. Luke's, is trying to reduce that. He works with Madelene and dozens of other local athletes to prevent this serious injury with new techniques.
"There's been recent research that's shown that doing prevention programs that consist of strengthening, stretching, agility exercises and plyometrics can actually reduce ACL injuries by up to 41%," he explained.
He developed a program that does just that. It only takes 15 minutes, and is designed as a warm up before practice or a game, focusing a lot on landing the right way. In the two years he's been sharing it with coaches and athletes, no one has torn their ACL.
"The idea is to teach them the proper technique to improve their body control with the goal of reducing injury."
At Southern Lehigh, the girls basketball coach is now having players do the exercises before they take the court. Madelene is happy because she has a lot on the line. Next year she'll be playing division one ball, and doesn't want to miss out with a hurt ACL.
"We're trying to take whatever measures we can to help avoid them," added Madelene.