Genes may explain higher ACL injuries in girls - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Genes may explain higher ACL injuries in girls

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SALEM, Ohio - Passing the ball and setting up plays are what drive Bethany Jewell of Salem to play soccer. Her desire to master the basics is what keeps her coming back.

"There was a pretty dark point, I think, after the first time because, you know, six months is a really long time and it's just really frustrating," Jewell said.

Since 2011, Bethany has been sidelined, not once, but twice due to season-ending ACL injuries. Her doctor says torn ACLs have become increasingly common among young athletes.

"What's really been profound is that the rate of ACL tears in girls versus boys is at least twice as high if not eight times higher," said Dr. Kerwyn Jones with Akron Children's Hospital.

For years, doctors have been trying to figure out why girls are more likely to injure their ACLs.

Recently, Dr. Jones tested a new theory. "We look at 20,000 different genes that code for proteins on the ACL," said Dr. Jones.

What he found was that three genes responsible for making certain structures in the ACL are quite different in a girl's ligament compared to boys.

Dr. Jones says since a girl's body is less likely to make those normal structures, their ACL tissue is likely to be weaker than a boy's, which could affect the integrity of their ligament.

"My thought is we can't change the genes. We can't change the structure of that girl's ACL, at least not in this day and time, nor maybe should we, but we might be able to start training them early on," said Dr. Jones.

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