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Injury to the knee joint, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, can lead to osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee later in life. In fact, individuals with a history of knee injury are 3-6 times more likely than those without knee injury to develop knee OA, and almost half of individuals with an ACL injury will develop knee OA within 10 years. In this interview, we speak with basketball star and OAAA Honorary Co-Chair Lennie Rosenbluth on how basketball is Standup UP 2 OA!

When you played basketball, how did your coaches address injury prevention?

Preventing injuries was never really talked about when I was playing in the 1950s. Coach never discussed any injury prevention strategies. If someone twisted an ankle, we would tape it up, wait a few days, and then be right back in the game. There was no specific protocol for rehabilitation. We did do a little bit of cross training –with medicine balls, jump ropes, and the like, but never anything like a planned injury prevention program.

How have training programs changed since you played basketball?

The difference in training programs now is night and day. For one thing, the number of people working on the team to help prevent and treat injuries is vastly different. When I was playing we had a head coach and that was it –there was no trainer, no assistants, we taped our own ankles. Now whenever you go to a game you see at least seven guys in suits out on the court working with the players.

The equipment that players use, like shoes, is very different too. When I played we wore Converse Allstar sneakers. We got one pair at the beginning of the year and then you couldn’t get another pair unless you proved why you needed one. Now, the shoes that players wear actually cushion their heels, they have multiple pairs for different kinds of training and playing, and they get new shoes frequently. They know the importance of that equipment for preventing injuries.

What challenges still remain to be addressed?

Despite all these advances in how coaches and teams think about and address injuries, I think that more players are getting injured now than when I was playing. Nowadays, players are just tremendously athletic – they move quicker, jump higher. Even though they are doing more to prevent injuries nowadays, they are still all too common unfortunately. And players are paying for those injuries with osteoarthritis later in life.

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