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Wilderness Environ Med. 1998;9(1):14-8.

Injuries sustained during competitive white-water paddling: a survey of athletes in the 1996 Olympic trials.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson 39216, USA.


To examine injury prevalence in competitive paddlers, a cross-sectional, retrospective, written survey of the athletes competing in the four regional Olympic canoe and kayak qualifying races for the United States Canoe and Kayak Team was conducted in the spring of 1996. A total of 375 questionnaires were distributed, of which 54 were completed and returned. Results were reported as the percentage of total injuries. A composite of 271 separate injuries was reported by kayakers during their careers. While 56% of the injuries occurred during training, 40% happened during recreation and 4% during competition. The most frequent injuries were sprains (32%), tendonitis (20%), and chronic musculoskeletal pain (14%). Simple bruises (9%) and infections (8%) occurred with moderate frequency, while severe injuries, such as dislocations (3%) and lacerations (2%), were even less common. About 10% of the paddlers noted a near-drowning event during their careers. Of the injuries noted, 70% were reported as recurrent or chronic. Treatment included rest (37%), physical therapy (23%), medical intervention (34%), and surgical intervention (6%). White-water paddling of canoes and kayaks is a potentially dangerous sport, and competitive paddlers frequently suffer a range of injuries. Most injuries occurred during training; however, the short intense work of racing produced a greater frequency of injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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