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Youth Versus Adult “Weightlifting” Injuries Presenting to United States Emergency Rooms: Accidental Versus Nonaccidental Injury Mechanisms

Myer, Gregory D1,2; Quatman, Carmen E1,3; Khoury, Jane1,4; Wall, Eric J1,5; Hewett, Timothy E1,6

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: October 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 7 - pp 2054-2060
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b86712
Original Research

Myer, GD, Quatman, CE, Khoury, J, Wall, EJ, and Hewett, TE. Youth versus adult “weightlifting” injuries presenting to united states emergency rooms: accidental versus nonaccidental injury mechanisms. J Strength Cond Res 23(7): 2054-2060, 2009-Resistance training has previously been purported to be unsafe and ineffective in children. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate resistance training-related injuries presenting to U.S. emergency rooms by age, type, and mechanism of injury. We hypothesized that older athletes would sustain greater percentages of joint sprains and muscle strains, whereas younger athletes would sustain a greater percentage of accidental injuries that would result in an increased percentage of fractures in youths. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System was queried from 2002 to 2005 using the CPSC code for “Weightlifting.” Subjects between the ages of 8 and 30 were grouped by age categories 8 to 13 (elementary/middle school age), 14 to 18 (high school), 19 to 22 (college), and 23 to 30 (adult). Injuries were classified as “accidental” if caused by dropped weight or improper equipment use. Multiple logistic regression was used to compare accidental injuries between age groups. The sample consisted of 4,111 patients. Accidental injuries decreased (p < 0.05) with age: 8 to 13 > 14 to 18 > 19 to 22 years = 23 to 30 years. Conversely, sprain/strain injuries increased in each successive age group (p < 0.05). Evaluation of only the nonaccidental injuries (n = 2,565) showed that the oldest categories (19-22 and 23-30 yr) demonstrated a greater percentage of sprains and strains relative to younger age categories (p < 0.001). Two thirds of the injuries sustained in the 8 to 13 group were to the hand and foot and were most often related to “dropping” and “pinching” in the injury descriptions, and there was an increased percentage of fractures in the 8 to 13 group relative to all other groups (p < 0.001). The study findings indicate that children have lower risk of resistance training-related joint sprains and muscle strains than adults. The majority of youth resistance training injuries are the result of accidents that are potentially preventable with increased supervision and stricter safety guidelines.

1Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center and Human Performance Laboratory, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229; 2Graduate Program in Athletic Training, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah 84606; 3Engineering Center for Orthopaedic Research Excellence, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio 43606; 4Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Ohio; 5Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; and 6Departments of Pediatrics, Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine and the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221

Address correspondence to Gregory D. Myer,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association