Physical health is extremely important. While there are a number of articles and studies that report the health benefits of running, weightlifting, yoga, and the like, many people prefer more unconventional exercise methods.
But with all forms of exercise, there are risks involved. Despite the health benefits and rush of adrenaline that motocross riders experience on their bikes, the sport is extremely dangerous.
In a recent investigation, doctors and health professionals found that despite helmet use, 85% of the riders that they tracked over 10 years experienced injuries — namely concussions — and one died from his injuries.
The doctors who commissioned the study looked at 35 boys ages eight to 17, who all raced on tracks sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association. The study was conducted between 2004 and 2014.
Dr. Christopher Arena, the study’s lead author and resident with the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Penn State Health, Hershey Medical Center, said that these findings will hopefully help identify additional safety measures that should be implemented by the sport’s governing body.
“I think the sport is absolutely growing in popularity,” he said.
A former motocross racer himself, Dr. Arena believes that corporate sponsorships and television broadcasting has incited more interest in the sport.
A Florida doctor, however, is not as enthused by the sport’s growing popularity.
Dr. Barbara Pena, research director at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital emergency department in Miami said that children under 18 shouldn’t do motocross at all.
“A child’s brain is still developing,” said Dr. Pena, “and we don’t really know how much injury a developing brain can take before it causes long-term damage.”
Of the 35 boys surveyed, 49% of them experienced concussions, despite wearing all of the mandated race equipment, including helmets, shatterproof goggles, protective boots and pants, and long-sleeve jerseys.
Additionally, 32 fractures were reported. Broken legs were the most common, but broken arms, collarbones, and ankles were also reported.
Among those who experienced lower extremity fractures, 80% had to undergo surgery.
“If it was my child I probably wouldn’t allow [them to do motocross],” said Dr. Pena.
However, Dr. Arena believes that “the sport can be made safer.” Improved helmet design and rule changes to the sport that emphasize the risk of head injury are just two things he suggests to make the sport safer.
The findings were presented on Sunday, Oct. 23, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in San Francisco. However, these results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. In the meantime, the results should be considered preliminary.
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