Some Martial Arts Carry Increased Injury Risks for Children

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Karate, taekwondo, judo and other martial arts are popular with children. Although these activities provide a good workout for kids, some types also come with increased risk for injury, reports a recent clinical report published in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) journal.

The report says that while most martial arts injuries, such as bruises and sprains, are not life-threatening, more serious injuries such as neck trauma, concussions and fractures do occur, especially during free sparring in competitions.

Injury rates vary from 41 to 133 injuries for every 1,000 athletic exposures, depending on the form of martial art, the report says.

Protective equipment such as soft helmets and mouth and face guards are not proven to prevent concussions and may provide a false sense of safety, the AAP says.

The researchers recommend children not participate in competition or contact until they are fully competent in noncontact techniques. They also suggest children avoid martial arts forms that include blows to the head, due to an increased risk of concussion.

The AAP calls for the elimination of certain rules, such awarding extra points during tournaments for kicks to the head, a rule recently enacted in taekwondo, that can have particular impact on concussion rates.

Have questions about the safety of your child’s martial arts class or what types to avoid? Ask your pediatrician.

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