Youths participating in competitive motocross events experience potentially life-threatening injuries on the rough-terrain track, despite wearing helmets and other safety gear, according to researchers.

The 10-year retrospective study, “Injuries in the Competitive Pediatric Motocross Athlete,” was presented recently at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition.

In the study, researchers identified 35 patients between ages 8 and 17 who were treated at a level I trauma center between 2004 and 2014 after being hurt while practicing or competing on two-wheeled dirt bikes at American Motorcycle Association sanctioned and regulated motocross tracks. The courses typically feature steep hills, jumps and sharp turns.

According to the researchers, explains a media release from the American Academy of Pediatrics, most (85.7%) of the patients, who averaged 14 years in age, were injured during competitions. Despite the required use of helmets on the tracks, nearly half (48.6%) of them suffered concussions. Twenty-five patients (71.4%) had bone fractures or dislocations, two-thirds of which required surgery. Most had broken legs (18.8% broke their femur, 12.5% their fibula and 9.4% their tibia), collarbone (12.5%), or forearm (9.4%). One child died from his injuries.

All 35 patients were wearing required safety equipment, including a helmet, shatterproof goggles, protective pants, long-sleeve jersey, and protective boots at the time of injury, according to the abstract that was presented during the National Conference. More than half of the injuries were related to a jump obstacle.

“As a former motocross athlete I realize the sport has potential for serious injury,” says abstract author Christopher Arena, a third-year orthopaedics resident, in the release. “Continued research into how these injuries occur, and how to prevent them, hopefully will improve the safety of this sport for future pediatric athletes.”

[Source(s): American Academy of Pediatrics, Science Daily]