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Competition injuries in taekwondo: a literature review and suggestions for prevention and surveillance

Abstract

Objective To review competition injuries in taekwondo and use this information to develop recommendations to reduce the number and severity of injuries in taekwondo competition.

Methods The available literature was searched for prospective studies on taekwondo injuries in adult athletes. An injury was defined as any circumstance for which the athlete sought the assistance of the on-site medical personnel. Injury rates were expressed per athlete-exposures (A–E) and 95% CIs calculated.

Results Total injury rates for elite men varied from 20.6/1000 A–E (95% CI 11.8 to 29.3) to 139.5/1000 A–E (95% CI 94.0 to 185.1). For elite women, the rates varied from 25.3/1000 A–E (95% CI 3.1 to 47.4) to 105.5/1000 A–E (95% CI 89.8 to 121.1). About one-third of all injuries (29.6%) in the men were to the head and neck region, while almost half of the injuries (44.5%) were to the lower extremities. In women, 15.2% of injuries were to the head and neck and 53.1% to the lower extremities. The vast majority of all injuries were contusions (42.7% in the men and 62.7% in the women). Point estimates of rates of head injuries and concussions were found to be higher in taekwondo than in other contact sports such as football (soccer) and American gridiron football. Time-loss injury rates in the men varied from 6.9/1000 A–E (95% CI 1.8 to 11.9) to 33.6/1000 A–E (95% CI 18.9 to 48.3). In the women, they varied from 2.4/1000 A–E (95% CI 2.3 to 7.2) to 23.0/1000 A–E (95% CI 15.7 to 30.4). The turning kick was most often involved in causing injury: 56.9% of all injuries in the men and 49.8% in the women. Lack of blocking skills was identified as one of the main injury mechanisms.

Conclusions Rule changes should be considered and it is recommended that governing bodies employ qualified medical personnel. Establishing an ongoing injury surveillance system in taekwondo should be the first priority.

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