Background: To investigate the location, type, situation and mechanism of head and neck injuries in young taekwondo athletes.
Experimental design: Prospective.
Setting: National and international taekwondo tournaments.
Participants: 3,341 boys and 917 girls, aged 6 to 16 years.
Measures: Injury rates per 1,000 athlete-exposures (A-E) for total number of head and neck injuries, location, type, situation, and mechanism of injury.
Results: There was a significant difference between young male and female taekwondo athletes in total head and neck injury rate (p < 0.001) with the boys (21.42/1,000 A-E) recording a higher rate than the girls (16.91/1,000 A-E). The head was the most often injured body part (6.10/1,000 A-E and 4.55/1,000 A-E for boys and girls, respectively). The contusion was the most often occurring injury type for both boys (8.41/1,000 A-E) and girls (7.80/1,000 A-E). The cerebral concussion ranked second in both boys (5.11/1,000 A-E) and girls (4.55/1,000 A-E). The unblocked attack was the major injury situation for both boys (19.78/1,000 A-E) and girls (14.96/1,000 A-E). As a consequence, the major injury mechanism was receiving a blow (20.93/1,000 A-E and 16.25/1,000 A-E for boys and girls, respectively). Only the boys (0.66/1,000 A-E) incurred the most serious head and neck injuries that resulted in > or = 21 days away from participation.
Conclusions: The national and international taekwondo governing bodies should review their current injury prevention measures. Given the potentially debilitating nature of these injuries, implications for any diagnostic capabilities on site should be carefully reviewed.