After an ACL tear: Research opens door to new treatments to improve recovery for athletes

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    After an ACL tear: Research opens door to new treatments to improve recovery for athletes Striking the likes of Chicago Bulls¹ Derrick Rose, L.A.
    Lakers¹ Kobe Bryant and Detroit Tigers¹ Victor Martinez, tears in the
    anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are one of the most rampant and serious
    knee injuries among athletes.

    Now, researchers from the University of Michigan Health System have
    identified a new drug target that may prevent one of the most dreaded
    consequences of an ACL tear ­the weakening or loss of muscle tissue (muscle
    atrophy) that can be a career-killer in sports and ultimately develop into

    A hormone called myostatin that blocks muscle growth appears to play a key
    role in causing muscle damage after ACL tears, according to a study that
    appears in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The findings pave the
    way for potential treatment preventing muscle loss after an ACL tear and
    consequent knee replacement, which affects more than 250,000 people a year
    in the U.S.

    ³We¹ve had several advances in technology to improve the recovery process
    for an ACL tear, but most patients still experience 30-40 percent muscle
    weakness ­ and that weakness largely limits the ability to return to the
    same level of sports,² says lead author and athletic trainer Christopher L.
    Mendias, Ph.D., A.T.C, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and
    Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School.

    ³This is the first study in humans to open the door to a potential therapy
    to prevent muscle atrophy. We see this as an important step in restoring
    athletic and functional abilities in the short term, and in preventing
    osteoarthritis in the long term.²

    Often dubbed an athlete¹s worst nightmare, ACL tears usually require
    surgical repairs and months of intense rehabilitation that force long breaks
    from playing any sports.

    Myostatin has shown promise as a potential drug target for treating other
    conditions such as muscular dystrophy and cancer, and blocking the protein
    has led to increased muscle mass and strength.

    ³In the sports world, there¹s great concern about the short-term and
    long-term affect of an ACL tear on not only an athlete¹s physical skills and
    ability to return to play, but also the longevity and health of the knee
    joint,² says senior author Asheesh Bedi, M.D., assistant professor in
    orthopedic surgery.

    ³This is the first study to look into the biology of muscle tissue involved
    in an ACL tear and to show how Myostatin affects the muscle damage we see
    following surgery. We need further studies to examine how these findings may
    aid in better recoveries following a common and often detrimental type of
    knee injury for athletes.²

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