Sports Injuries Target Women

Women are making great strides in athletics, but injuries are keeping them off the field more often than their male counterparts, reports Correspondent Kevyn Burger of CBS station WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.

The rate of injury for female athletes is four to six times higher than that of male athletes, according to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine.

The organization's figures show 20,000 high school and 10,000 college female athletes suffer serious knee injuries each year.

Today's female athlete has greatly improved access to sports medicine doctors who know how to treat their specific needs. But their goal is not just treatment, but prevention.

Noelle Papenhausen, co-captain of the University of Minnesota's soccer team, came hobbling back after two separate knee injuries. Both required surgery and kept her from competing.

"You're just not quite into everything the team is doing because when the team is practicing, you're doing your own rehab, and you're not quite there getting the chemistry of the team. So that was hard.

"I just think they're character builders," she continues. "That's what I'm going to tell my kids when I'm older."

A decade of intense research has not yielded many answers, says orthopedic surgeon Elizabeth Arendt, who has yet to figure out why women are more prone to knee problems.

But this does not mean women should be discouraged from playing the sport of their choice, says Judy Lutter who studies women's health and physical activity at the Melphome Institute in Minnesota.

"It's going to provide so many wonderful benefits in terms of self-esteem and her own poise and ability to develop as an adult," she says.

More women are now encouraged to train and condition specifically for the demands of their sport, in hopes this will help prevent painful injury.