Gymnastics accidents are classified within the scope of athletic, or sports accidents, that can range in severity. Due to the wide range of gymnastic activities, there also exist a wide range of potential gymnastic accidents to which gymnasts may succumb.
Danger Latent within Gymnastics
Without proper training – and in certain cases, even with proper training – gymnastic accidents can take place. Due to the elevated and aerial motions and maneuvers inherent within the sport itself, the chances of injuries are heightened. The rigorous expectations and maneuvers exuded by even the most trained gymnasts can result in gymnastic accidents if either the timing or placement of such exertions is not perfect. This is not to say that participation in gymnastics should be avoided. However, the strict safety precautions instituted by the United States Gymnastic Association (USGA) must be met in order to reduce the chances of gymnastics accidents.
Although the parameters and specifications vary depending on the gymnasium in which gymnastic equipment exists, the USGA maintains strict requirements for the maintenance, operations, and upkeep of all professional-grade gymnastics equipment. Furthermore, only padding and protective gear that has been both endorsed and/or sponsored by the USGA is deemed acceptable for use in competitive gymnastics.
Type of Gymnastics Accidents
The Pommel horse is considered to be one of the primary and most recognizable pieces of gymnastics equipment. The Pommel horse consists of a padded bar that sits atop a metal stand with fitted handles. From top to floor, a Pommel horse measures 3.77 feet. Gymnastics accidents involving the Pommel horse have included a gymnast being ejected from the horse and impact between a gymnast’s body part and the horse. Without proper padding beneath the Pommel horse, a gymnast is liable to be injured due to slips and falls from the Pommel horse.
The parallel bars are amongst the most dangerous of all gymnastics equipment and are responsible for the majority of gymnastics accidents that take place. Parallel bars measure 6.6 feet from bar to floor and, as a result, slips and falls resulting from mistakes during routines can result in injury. Gymnastics accidents involving the parallel bars have included paralysis, broken bones, and brain injury. Due to their height, gymnasts without proper training or proper protection are encouraged to avoid participation in parallel bar routines.
The rings are an example of elevated gymnastics equipment that can sit upwards of nine feet from floor to ring. Akin to the parallel bars, mistakes in gymnastics routines can lead to serious injury due to the height of the rings.
Gymnastic Accident Precautions and Recourse
Regardless of the level of gymnastic activities, which can range from physical education in schools to a professional level, proper precautions must be taken. Not only must the equipment be in proper working order, but the protective measures must be maintained. Although there exists inherent risk in the participation of gymnastic activity, injuries sustained as a result of negligence should be explored and assessed by legal professionals specializing in such matters.
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