The Vox Box

A Big-Time Injury Striking Little Players’ Knees

Collin Link wears a brace on the knee he hurt last year. Michael Stravato for The New York Times

"Although there are no complete or official numbers, orthopedists at leading medical centers estimate that several thousand children and young adolescents are getting A.C.L. tears each year, with the number being diagnosed soaring recently."

By Gina Kolata
Last year, when Collin Link was 11 years old, he was tackled as he went in for a touchdown in pee-wee football. (Full article...)

“He didn’t get up,” his mother, Crystal Link, said. “He kept saying his knee hurt real bad.” But Mrs. Link was not overly concerned, thinking it was just a sprain.

But the next morning when the family was getting ready to go to church near their home in The Woodlands, Tex., Collin said he could not walk. That Monday, a doctor told the Links what was wrong.

Collin had an injury that doctors used to think almost never occurred in children. He had torn the anterior cruciate ligament, or A.C.L., in his left knee, the main ligament that stabilizes the joint.

The standard and effective treatment for such an injury in adults is surgery. But the operation poses a greater risk for children and adolescents who have not finished growing because it involves drilling into a growth plate, an area of still-developing tissue at the end of the leg bone.

The article goes on to say that the best athletes "are more or less constantly at risk. They play year-round and on multiple teams with frequent games, in which the risk of injury is higher than in practice because of the intensity of play."

“The kids are playing at really highly competitive levels at earlier and earlier ages,” said Dr. Mininder S. Kocher, the associate director of the division of sports medicine at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

QUESTION: Do you know someone who had torn their ACL? Is playing the game hard worth the injury?

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In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at





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