Today's News

Thursday, March 19, 1998

Anterior cruciate ligament injury affects academic performance

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery could mean bad grades for college students, according to poster exhibit A15 presented on Thursday.
Orthopaedic surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania Sports Medicine Center, Philadelphia found the grade point average of college students suffering from ACL injuries dropped by 10 percent. The timing of their surgery contributed to a decline in their academic performance, reported study co-author Kevin B. Freedman, MD, University of Pennsylvania Sports Medicine Center.
To determine how injury affected student's grade point average, the orthopaedic surgeons compared the academic transcripts of 38 students with ACL injuries to 39 students without an injury.
The students with ACL injuries also were separated into two groups - 15 patients who had surgery during the academic semester and 23 patients who waited for a vacation break in the school year to have surgery.
Dr. Freedman and his colleagues reported 6 percent of the students who elected to have surgery during an academic semester received failing grades; none of the students having surgery during a vacation break received failing grades.
Thirty-three percent of the students who had surgery during the academic semester received grades of incomplete in their courses.
The study also indicated that students who elected to have surgery during an academic semester missed more than 10 school days and two exams. Students waiting to have surgery during a vacation break missed 1-days and no exams, Dr. Freedman said.
Overall, 96 percent of the students who had surgery during their vacation breaks were satisfied with the results. Only 47 percent of the students who had surgery during the academic semester were satisfied.
The surgery on students during an academic semester was performed in the fall or spring. Students who waited to have surgery during a vacation break had it in the summer, spring or winter.
"We already know that college students who sustain athletic injuries suffer from bouts of depression, anger or tension," Dr. Freedman said. "Our study proves the negative impact an injury, like an anterior cruciate ligament injury, can have on academic performance."
Dr. Freedman recommends college students consider delaying surgery until a vacation break in the academic semester. "Orthopaedic surgeons also should involve academic and/or psychological counseling with a patient's treatment protocol," he said.
Co-authors of the study are Joseph Bernstein, MD, University of Pennsylvania Sports Medicine Center, Philadelphia; and Michelle T. Glasgow, MD and Steven G. Glasgow, MD, both in private practice, Dekalb, Ill.

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