After the introduction of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on gender, the number of women involved in high school and collegiate level sports has significantly increased. Increasing the number of female athletes has a direct correlation with the amount of injuries experienced by these women. One of the most common injuries to female athletes is a sprain or a tear in the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) located in the knee. The ACL is one of the main components in the stabilization of the knee. A strain or tear to the ACL causes everyday life to be impacted significantly. ACL injuries are not only debilitating, but are expensive and have long term effects including arthritis.
Women have an increased chance of injuring their ACL for three main reasons: anatomical, hormonal, and biomedical. Statistically, women have wider hips and weaker inner thigh muscles than men. Additionally, women experience changes in hormonal imbalance which contributes to their cyclic changes in ligament strength. Lastly, knees can experience a bio-medical condition known as valgus. The presence of extreme valgus typically indicates a high risk of future ACL injury due to the increased stress on the ligament. Due to these factors, this study involved designing three prophylactic braces to be used as part of a training program to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee.