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Young Gymnasts Tumbling and Vaulting Their Way to the ER
Date:4/4/2008

Injuries send more than 26,000 rushing in for acute care each year, study finds,,

FRIDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Gymnastics done well is graceful and awe-inspiring, but one misstep or misplaced hand can quickly lead to injury.

More than 26,000 American children end up in hospital emergency rooms due to gymnastic-related injuries each year, according to a new study in the April issue of Pediatrics.

"Gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates of all girls' sports, and the injury rates are similar to that of other high-injury sports, such as soccer, basketball and cheerleading," said study senior author Lara McKenzie, an assistant professor in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

About 600,000 American youngsters participate in school-sponsored or club-level gymnastic competitions each year, according to background information in the study. Competitive pressure has been increasing in recent years, and children are competing at younger ages, according to the study.

McKenzie and her colleagues sifted through data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to cull information on gymnastics injuries for children between the ages of 6 and 17. The researchers limited their search to a 16-year period -- 1990 to 2005.

During that period, 425,000 children and teens had to be treated in emergency rooms for gymnastics-related injuries. That means almost five of every 1,000 gymnasts sustained an injury serious enough to require acute care, the study noted.

Eighty-two percent of the gymnasts were female, and about 50 percent were between 6 and 11 years old, according to the study. The overwhelming majority of children -- 97.4 percent -- were treated at the emergency room and released. Just 1.7 percent of those injured had to be admitted to the hospital.

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