At the Summer Olympics, even the most skilled and highly trained athletes can get injured. In the 2016 Olympics, about 8% of the Olympians sustained an injury. Over time, we’ve seen some of the worst injuries in the Olympics––from broken collarbones to fractured tibias.
More recently in this year’s Olympics, we saw Simone Biles pull out of the remaining gymnastics events due to the “twisties,” a condition in which gymnasts lose track of where they are in the air. Gymnasts can sustain severe injuries if they do not land correctly.
While gymnastics can be dangerous, it is not in the top riskiest Olympic sports (mostly due to the excellent training of the athletes). Sports such as gymnastics, rowing, shooting, archery, golf, table tennis, and swimming see less than 3% of athletes injured. The most common orthopedic injury among these athletes involves overuse due to excessive training.
The high-risk Olympic sports involve contact. No matter how much training you have, you cannot always account for the athletes around you or unexpected terrain. The sports with the top injuries include:
About 38% of BMX (bicycle motocross) cyclists sustain an injury, which is not shocking considering they begin by flying off a hill and reach over 37 mph on rough terrain. Mountain biking and road racing are also high-risk (around 24% of athletes injured) for collisions and crashes that can result in fractures.
About 30% of Olympic boxers are injured during practice or competition. These injuries usually involve broken facial bones and concussions.
Another contact sport, taekwondo, also made the high-risk list with about 24% of athletes sustaining an injury. It is a testament to the athletes’ skill that a sport involving martial arts does not result in more injuries.
While this sport does not involve contact with people, falls with or from a horse can be devastating and result in severe fractures, sprains, concussions, or bruising and cuts. Less than 5% of equestrians are usually injured in the Olympics, but the sport still made the high-risk list due to the severity of potential injuries.
So what happens if an athlete is injured during the Olympics?
Olympic Injury Prevention and Treatment
Behind the scenes, Olympians travel with a whole crew of volunteer orthopedic doctors, sports therapists, and nurses. The goal of this sports medicine team is to prevent injuries, usually with stretches, taping, bracing, and adjustments to practice and techniques. The specialists determine injury risks by studying how previous injuries have occurred and analyzing each individual athlete. The sports medicine team is also available to treat injuries at the Olympics, so they stay with the athletes and care for them until they can return to competition or begin a long-term recovery.
While you may not be an Olympian (or even if you are!), you can also benefit from consulting a sports medicine specialist for injury prevention. ORTHOKnox has a team of sports medicine specialists, including on-site board-certified surgeons and physical therapists, available to diagnose your injury or help you stay injury-free so you can go for the gold!
Sports Medicine Doctors in Knoxville and Athens, TN
With its board-certified surgeon, on-site physical therapy team, and Urgent Orthopaedic Care that is available without an appointment, ORTHOKnox has got you covered when it comes to injury prevention. We have orthopedic clinics in Knoxville, TN, and Athens, TN. For more information about how ORTHOKnox can treat you, call (865) 251-3030, or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to hearing from you!