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Boxing injuries on the rise: study

March 2, 2011

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Columbus, OH – The rate of boxing injuries treated in emergency rooms nationwide increased significantly between 1990 and 2008, according to a study (.pdf file) released Feb. 28 by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Researchers examined boxing injuries among people 6 and older and found an average of 8,700 boxing injuries were treated in emergency rooms annually; of those, approximately 2,500 were among children 6-17 years old. Throughout the course of the 19-year study, the number of boxing injuries increased 211 percent – from 5,361 in 1990 to nearly 17,000 in 2008.

The most common injuries were fractures, which occurred most often to the hand (33 percent), followed by the head and neck (23 percent).

Approximately 9 percent of injuries across all age groups were concussions or closed head injuries (injury to the brain or structures within the skull that is not caused by a penetrating injury). Researchers, who expected the rate of head injuries to be lower among younger boxers who strike with less force, expressed concern. “These repetitive blows to the head may be placing boxers under 18 years of age at risk for neurological impairment and psychological problems due to [chronic traumatic encephalopathy],” said senior author Gary Smith.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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