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Prevention of Child Camel Jockey Injuries: A Success Story From the United Arab Emirates

Abu-Zidan, Fikri M. MD, PhD*,†; Hefny, Ashraf F. MSc*; Branicki, Frank MD*,†

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2012 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 467–471
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e318258772a
Original Research

Objective: To study the effects of a law banning children from taking part in camel racing on child camel jockey injuries in Al-Ain City, United Arab Emirates.

Design: Prospective study.

Setting: University Teaching Hospital.

Patients: All patients who were admitted to Al-Ain Hospital and were injured while riding camels were prospectively studied between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2009.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Two periods, before the law and after its introduction, were compared.

Main Outcome Measures: Pediatric injuries, their anatomical distribution, and severity of injury.

Results: Fifty-four patients were studied, and all were males. There were 13 children and 41 adults. All children were camel jockeys except 1 child who was riding a camel for fun. None of the adult camel riders was a camel jockey. The median (range) age of patients admitted before the law was 12.5 (5-45) years, which was significantly less compared with 27.2 (20-40) years after its introduction (P = 0.001, Mann–Whitney test). All 13 children sustained their injuries before the law was implemented, whereas 12 of 41 adults sustained their injuries before the legislation was in place (P < 0.0001, Fisher exact test). The total length of hospital stay of patients was significantly reduced after the law enforcement (P < 0.01, Mann–Whitney test).

Conclusions: Our findings emphasize the important role of law enforcement in injury prevention, illustrated by the replacement of children by robot substitutes. This is possibly one of the few examples where child injury has been completely prevented by legislation.

*Trauma Group, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates

Department of Surgery, Al-Ain Hospital, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates.

Corresponding Author: Fikri M. Abu-Zidan, MD, FRCS, PhD, DipApplStats, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Al-Ain Hospital, PO Box 17666, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates (

Supported by an Individual (UAE University) Grant (01-07-8-11/03), Faculty of Medicine Research Grants (NP/03/11, 2003; and NP/04/28, 2004), and a UAE University Interdisciplinary Grant (02-07-8-1/4).

F. M. Abu-Zidan had the idea, raised the funds, analyzed the data, read the literature, wrote the article, responded to the reviewers, and approved its final version. A. F. Hefny participated in the idea, helped in collecting the data and its analysis, helped in correcting the drafted article, and approved its final version. F. Branicki participated in the idea, read the literature, corrected the drafted article, and approved its final version.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received November 27, 2011

Accepted March 28, 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.