Dance-related injuries in young people on the increase

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By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Findings spanning 17 years suggest that dance-related injuries in children and adolescents in the USA have increased by 37% over this time.

The researchers found that the majority (40.4%) of injuries occurred in the 15-19-years age group rather than in younger children.

"We believe this could be due to adolescent dancers getting more advanced in their skills, becoming more progressed in their careers and spending more time training and practicing," said lead author Kristin Roberts, from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, in a press statement.

"We encourage children to keep dancing and exercising. But it is important that dancers and their instructors take precautions to avoid sustaining injuries," she added.

As reported in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, the researchers analyzed data on dance-related injuries in 3-19 year olds, collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 1991 and 2007. During that period, 113,084 children and adolescents were treated for such injuries.

Over half (55%) of the injuries occurred during ballet, tap, jazz, or modern dance, and most (58.1%) affected the lower extremities. Sprains and strains were the most common type of injury (52.4%) and falls the most common way injury occurred (44.8%). Most (99.4%) of those injured were not hospitalized.

The number of injuries reported in 2007 was significantly higher than in 1991, at 8477 versus 6175. This resulted in an increase in the age-adjusted rate of injury per 100,000 people in the population from 10.2 in 1991 to 12.1 in 2007.

Notably, the type of injury sustained varied with age. For example, children aged 6-10 years were 1.78-fold more likely to sustain an upper extremity injury than younger or older children, and children older than 11.5 years were 2.5 times more likely to sustain a lower extremity injury than younger children.

Study co-author Lara McKenzie, from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, also in Columbus, told the press: "Safety precautions such as staying well-hydrated, properly warming up and cooling down, concentrating on the proper technique and getting plenty of rest can help prevent dance-related injuries."

Eric Leighton, an athletic trainer affiliated to Nationwide Children's Hospital, who was not involved in the research, commented: "Adolescents are still growing into their bodies and as such often develop imbalances that can lead to injury. It's critical that intervention and injury prevention be made available to them to address balance, strength and functional body control deficits as they grow."

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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