The purposes of this study were to: determine the incidence of injury and illness among Special Olympic athletes at local competitions; assess the relative risk of medical problems among Down's syndrome athletes; and compare the relative risk of sports injury incurred by athletes participating in various Special Olympic events. Health stations were set up at all sports venues and injury/illness surveillance records were kept for all injury/illness encounters during a 3-day competition for 777 Special Olympic athletes. A total of 3.5% of the athletes required injury/illness care during the games. Down's syndrome athletes were 3.2 times as likely to encounter a medical problem. Track and field events provided the least activity time and the most injuries. These data suggest that Special Olympic games at the local level are safe and that planners should prepare to treat more illnesses than injuries at such competitions.
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