The contraceptive pill may be the answer for sports women who are prone to knee injuries, according to an Australian study.
The study results will be revealed during a pre-Olympic conference in Athens (the European Society for Sports Medicine, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy on May 5-8).
The joint study between CQU and a Rockhampton orthopaedic surgeon is looking at how to prevent Australia' s most common and costly sports injury, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury, by manipulating blood oestrogen levels using the pill.
CQU biomechanist Adam Bryant, Orthopaedic Surgeon Associate Professor Erik Hohmann and visiting German medical student Elisabeth Eiling, of Kiel University have established a 'first in the world' link between oestrogen and musculotendinous stiffness (MTS) and knee laxity at the time when females are most predisposed to injury.
A CQU research study completed late last year proved the association between the hormone and injury in sports women.
Mr Bryant said the study's results should be seen as a warning to women to take precautions when considering participation in high-risk sports such as netball and basketball when their oestrogen levels are at their highest around ovulation.
"During the study we looked at the fluctuations of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and relaxin and their effects on the knee joint," Mr Bryant said.
"We brought the test subjects in during different times of their cycle (every week over the 28-day menstrual cycle) and looked at the movement in the knee joint and at how stiff their muscles were." For each testing session participants were required to do different biomechanical tests in order to determine the stiffness and laxity of their knee as well as being filmed doing netball landings on a force plate to create movement data on the biomechanics of landings. Mr Bryant said the results would transfer across a range of sports that require participants to stop suddenly, including soccer and squash.
"This is a ground-breaking study with plenty of potential to reduce the costs associated with anterior cruciate ligament damage in Australia,'' he said.
As well as featuring during the Athens conference, the research has been accepted to be presented at Australian Orthopaedic Congress in Sydney later this year. The study will also be featured at the Sports Medicine Australia Congress in Alice Springs in October of this year. For details/interview about any of these topics phone Adam Bryant on (07) 4930 6752 or 0412 822 767.
The initial study involved 12 female A-level netball players and six male students, aged between 15 and 19 years. The male students made up the control group in the study.