ACL injuries

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ACL injuries have increased 400-percent in teens and adolescents in the last ten years.

They're also on the rise among baby boomers. To make sure you don't have to pay out-of-pocket to fix the injury, doctors are using a new tool to show surgery works.

A few months ago, Chris Spinelli tore his ACL in a soccer game. "I planted and he ran into me and hit my knee at just a funny angle and I just went right down."

Doctor Mike Maloney says surgery gets patients back to near-normal, but healthcare reform may change whether it's covered by insurance. Doctors will soon need to prove the knee surgery helps. "There's a huge challenge that a lot of the procedures we do have not gone through that rigor and therefore, third party payers may say, 'we're not going to pay for them anymore'."

That's where the gait-rite system comes in. This 26-foot carpet contains sensors to assess gait after injury and again after surgery to show how patients are doing. "We will have seen that their gait has been restored to what we consider normal and safe and allow them to progress."

It also identifies those who are not recovering well. It's good for patients, but the system is really a way to curb potential problems with insurance coverage when new healthcare laws go into effect.

The surgery worked for Chris, but without his insurance. "There's just no way I would have been able to do the surgery and then I'd be like, 'What am I gonna do'?"

He hopes this research will save people from asking that question in the future.

Of the roughly 200,000 ACL injuries each year, nearly 100 thousand of those are fixed with surgery. The cost of surgery ranges from 20-thousand to 50-thousand dollars, followed by months of rehab. It typically takes six to twelve months after surgery to get back to normal activity.