Special Assignment: Gymnastics Dangers
risk of injury for young girls Video by tmj4.comvideo
MILWAUKEE - Is girl's gymnastics almost as dangerous as rugby? Some studies now show that this sport of grace and power could be one of the most dangerous sports of all.
Just log onto YouTube to see the ferocious falls, twisted tumbles, and near-deadly disasters.
Marianne Kloehn's daughter Jessica is a gymnast at Nicolet. She admits, "Always in the back of your mind you're like what happens, 'What if, what if?'"
Dr. Anne Hoch is in the Orthopedic Surgery Department at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
"Gymnastics does have a lot of injuries. It ranks second only to soccer at the college level," Dr. Hoch says.
Now two studies show a serious problem. According to British reports, recent data shows young gymnasts needing medical treatment there nearly as often as rugby players. A study by an Ohio children's hospital showed similar results--Gymnastics injuries as common as football and ice hockey.
"The injuries we see most commonly are stress fractures--either in the low back, or in the foot, the leg, or the hip," Dr. Hoch explains.
The Ohio study breaks it down like this: 42% of kid's injuries are caused by handsprings and flips. Cartwheels lead to another 30%. All of this can make your child old before her time. Dr. Hoch explains, "If they're getting repetitive knee injuries, from damage done when they landed from their bar routine--that's setting them up for pre-mature arthritis."
Wendy Ehrman's daughter Alicia competed at a meet against Brookfield earlier this year, and she did it with a stress fracture in her spine!
"I mean I have to trust her skills, and I trust her coach," Wendy says.
Nicolet gymnastics coach Christine Dempsey takes extra precautions with her students. When asked about gymnastics, she admits, "It's one of the most dangerous sports in the world--on top of diving."
Some experts say the problem is getting worse, as the competition is getting tougher.
"There's a lot of kids that go out there and think they need to do the powerhouse skills, and my philosophy is if you can't do the basic, you shouldn't be moving up to the next skill," Dempsey says.
Nicolet dad Tom Rabenn took his daughter out of gymnastics after a scary back injury.
He recalls, "We just pulled the plug for 3 yrs, let her heal, and just really made sure she wanted to do it."
Over and over, the crashes come, and the headlines: Like Chinese gymnast Wang Yan who was paralyzed by a gymnastics accident, or U.S. gymnast Julissa Gomez who died from her crash However, girls all over the world are willing to take the risks.
Gymnast Jessica Kloehn says, "It shows if i work really hard, good outcomes can come from it."
Alicia adds, "Once you finally get it, it feels really good, and that's why you do it, because you like that feeling."
Get this: The Ohio research also found that club and team gymnastics aren't the only problem. It says that for the younger children age 6-11, many gymnastics injuries are happening right at home.
We got a call in our newsroom about a free gymnastics workshop Tuesday May 10 at 'Chiropractic First' in Mukwonago. They will discuss natural injury prevention strategies.