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Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III can attest that ACL reconstructive surgery is a painful procedure. Unfortunately, it's becoming commonplace in hospitals across America as athletes are increasingly tearing their ACLs. (See Athletes at Risk of ACL Injury.)
Last week at the Alpine World Championships, skier Lindsay Vonn suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee and a lateral tibial plateau fracture as a result of a crash. Her ACL reconstructive surgery will set her back again, but she hopes to recover in time to prepare for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Injuries like Vonn's and Griffin's made Bill Bue, an educated entrepreneur with 32 years in Sports Medicine, think about a solution to the problem: how can we keep athletes from re-tearing their ACLs and ending their careers for good?
Bue is president of Topical Gear, a company that designs protective gear for female athletes. Knowing that female athletes are five times more likely than males to sustain ACL injuries, Bue and his team developed the ACL Tube, a lightweight brace that applies topical pressure on the medial quadriceps and hamstring muscles, which are significantly weaker in females, mostly because of things beyond their control, like anatomical, hormonal and mechanical differences.
In response to stimulation from the ACL Tube (see video below), the medial quadriceps and hamstring muscles grow stronger so they are more likely to resist further injury. The ACL tube does not limit an athlete's range of motion.
Penn State athletic trainer Andra Thomas says that ACL Tubes have been a game-changer in helping her athletes return to the field quicker. "I have tried the tubes on two people," Thomas said. "One was a five-week post-op ACL from soccer. I was rehabbing her for our soccer trainer one day and she was having difficulty firing her VMO [Vastus Medialis Oblique] for proper gait. When I put her in the Tube and didn't tell her what it did, the difference was dramatic. Her first words were: 'What is this magic thing?' I had her wear it while at home to help her gait, and by Sunday she indicated she felt dramatically better and felt her quad was firing better."