Evaluating Pediatric ACL Injury-Related Content Across Various Social Media Platforms Original Research

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Anna Gussner
Matthew Rohde
Danika Baskar
Theodore Ganley
Kevin Shea


Background:  Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears are common in young athletes who rely on social media as a primary source of information. Evaluation of the information being shared across social media sites about pediatric ACL injuries has yet to be investigated. The purpose of this study was to investigate the content related to pediatric ACL tears across various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. 

Methods: The search terms “pediatric ACL,” “pediatric ACL tear,” and “ACL recovery” were used to identify relevant groups and postings. Each of these search terms was entered into each platform to find content with the highest number of followers, views, and/or posts. This content was then analyzed and categorized based on common themes of focus.

Results: Across four identified Facebook groups, there were over 13,000 members collectively with 950 posts shared from May 12, 2021, to June 12, 2021. Posts were shared by caregivers of adolescents searching for a community of support from those who have undergone similar injuries and treatments. Related Instagram hashtags revealed 1.5 million posts centered mainly on athletes returning to play after sustaining ACL injuries. The top two Instagram pages together had more than 42,600 followers focused on successful recovery anecdotes. The top five YouTube videos total 523,000 views and share educational content, surgical techniques, and patient stories. The top four TikTok hashtags have over 64 million total views with videos about personal experiences before and after ACL surgery. 

Conclusion: Our findings revealed widespread sharing of anecdotal experiences after ACL injury. The advice shared may be valuable from a community support perspective.  The relatively limited physician presence and monitoring of these social media sites may compromise the quality of medical information. Providers caring for pediatric athletes may benefit from increased knowledge about social media resources widely used by young athletes. Physicians may consider novel approaches to monitoring these sites and offering higher-quality information to patients and families to support better decision-making.

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How to Cite
Gussner, A., Rohde, M., Baskar, D., Ganley, T., & Shea, K. (2022). Evaluating Pediatric ACL Injury-Related Content Across Various Social Media Platforms: Original Research. Journal of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.55275/JPOSNA-2022-0008
Author Biography

Kevin Shea, Stanford University School of Medicine

Chambers-Okamura Endowed Professor in Pediatric Orthopedics

Member of the Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI)

Vice Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery for Research 

Director of Pediatric Sports Medicine

Assistant Surgeon-in-Chief for Quality and Supply Chain Management