Thousands of gymnasts visit E.R. every year - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Thousands of gymnasts visit E.R. every year

April 7, 2008

Cairo--They train for years, hoping to be the best.  But for many, their road to success includes pit stops at the emergency room.  "Wrist sprains, ankle sprains, that sort of thing," says Kelli Vaughn, a registered nurse and the trauma coordinator for Archbold Hospital.

"There's a lot of jumping around, a lot of spinning. A lot of high skilled, dance moves that require landing in awkward positions, and so it lends itself to ankle injuries," says Margot Evans.  

She began competing when she was 8 years old. Once an Olympic hopeful herself, she now coaches Cairo High School's gymnastics team at Cairo Gymnastics Academy.

Evans has seen first hand the impact the sport can have on gymnasts in training.  "Most of the time, especially when you get a little older, what takes you out is your injuries.   I've got 10 girls on my team right now and six of them are being taped up on a regular basis," says Evans. 

According to the study, over 26,000 children and teens land themselves in the emergency room with gymnastics-related injuries every year, most of them girls.  But medical experts and coaches agree, there are some ways athletes can reduce their risk of injury or at least reduce doing permanent damage. 

"A lot of prep, a lot of preparatory work, skills that progress into the major harder skills to do. A lot of strengthening out the extremities," says Evans. 

Vaughn adds, "You need to wear the appropriate protective equipment, and whenever you do have an injury or an issue, pain, you need to be seen."  Not to mention the importance to always have a trainer or parent close-by, keeping a watchful eye.  

The study showed that fractures and dislocations were most common for children from 6 to 11 years old, while strains and sprains were more frequent for 12 to 17 year olds.

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