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Gymnastics Lands Thousands Of Girls and Boys In Emergency Room

April 8, 2008
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Gymnastics is a very popular sport among girls, and a new study shows it is also one of the riskiest. The first national study to look at the sport found nearly 27,000 kids get hurt each year -- and there are more injuries during Summer Olympic years when children try to imitate the highly-skilled athletes. Pediatric experts are calling for better supervision and national guidelines to protect children and prevent serious injuries.

More than 600,000 children participate in school-sponsored and club-level gymnastics competitions annually in the United States. Yet gymnastics continues to be overlooked in terms of potential for injury, while having one of the highest injury rates of all girls' sports.

A study, conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and published in the April electronic issue of Pediatrics, examined data on children 6 to 17 years of age who were treated in hospital emergency departments for gymnastics-related injuries between 1990 and 2005. According to the findings, on average nearly 27,000 injuries are reported each year -- nearly 426,000 injuries during the 16-year period.

"Many parents do not typically think of gymnastics as a dangerous sport," said study senior author Lara McKenzie, PhD, MA, principal investigator in CIRP at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "In fact, many parents consider it an activity. Yet gymnastics has the same clinical incidence of catastrophic injuries as ice hockey."

The majority of the gymnastics injuries - 40 percent - occurred at school or a place of recreation/sports. Girls were more likely than boys to sustain upper extremity injuries, while head and neck injuries were more common in boys.

Fractures and dislocations were most common for children 6 to 11 years of age, and strains and sprains were more frequent in the 12 to 17 age group.

"Our study suggests prevention and reduction of gymnastics injuries may be achieved by the establishment and universal enforcement of rules and regulations for gymnasts, coaches and spotters," said McKenzie, also an assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Data for the study were obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to calculate national estimates of injuries. The analysis included cases of gymnastics-related injuries treated in emergency departments across the country during the 16-year period.

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Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Gymnastics Lands Thousands Of Girls and Boys In Emergency Room." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2008. <>.
Nationwide Children's Hospital. (2008, April 8). Gymnastics Lands Thousands Of Girls and Boys In Emergency Room. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from
Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Gymnastics Lands Thousands Of Girls and Boys In Emergency Room." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 23, 2017).