OBJECTIVE. The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiology of gymnastics-related injuries among children in the United States.

METHODS. A retrospective analysis was conducted of data for children 6 through 17 years of age from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for 1990 through 2005. Sample weights provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were used to calculate national estimates of gymnastics-related injuries. Injury rates were calculated for the most frequently occurring types of injury using gymnastics participation data.

RESULTS. An estimated 425900 children 6 through 17 years of age were treated in US hospital emergency departments for gymnastics-related injuries during the 16-year period of 1990–2005. The number of injuries averaged 26600 annually. The number of injuries sustained per 1000 gymnastics participants per year for the pediatric population was 4.8. The number of injuries sustained per 1000 participants per year was greater for the ages 12 to 17 years (7.4) than for the ages 6 to 11 years (3.6). The place where an injury occurred include school (40.0%), a place of recreation or sports (39.7%), home (14.5%), or on other public property (5.8%). The body parts injured were upper extremity (42.3%), lower extremity (33.8%), head/neck (12.9%), trunk (10.4%), and other (0.6%). Injury diagnoses were strain/sprain (44.5%), fracture/dislocation (30.4%), abrasion/contusion (15.6%), laceration/avulsion (3.7%), concussion/closed head injury (1.7%), and other (4.2%). The majority (97.1%) of patients with gymnastics-related injuries were treated and released from the emergency department.

CONCLUSIONS. Gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates of all girls' sports. Establishment of a national database for gymnastics-related injuries, including exposure data for direct calculation of injury rates, would permit better identification and monitoring of risk factors for gymnastics-related injuries and aid in the development, implementation, and evaluation of injury prevention strategies based on epidemiologic evidence.

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