T. David Luo, Michelle J. Clarke, Amy K. Zimmerman, Michael Quinn, David J. Daniels and Amy L. McIntosh
Action motorsports, including motocross, have been gaining popularity among children and adolescents, raising concerns for increased risk of concussions in participating youth. The authors undertook this study to test the following hypotheses: 1) that there is a high rate of concussion symptoms associated with a number of preventable or adjustable risk factors, and 2) that a high percentage of these symptoms are not be reported to adults and medical personnel.
The authors identified all motocross riders under the age of 18 at a regional racetrack during the riding season between May and October 2010. The participants completed questionnaires pertaining to demographic characteristics and variables associated with motocross. The questionnaire results were compared with the incidence of self-reported concussion symptoms.
Two hundred two riders were identified who met the criteria for participation in the study, and 139 of them completed the study questionnaire. Of these 139 riders, 67 (48%) reported at least 1 concussion symptom during the season. The majority of riders (98%) reported “always” wearing a helmet, and 72% received professional help with fitting of their helmets. Proper helmet fitting was associated with a 41% decreased risk of concussion symptoms (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.44–0.81, p < 0.01). Sixty-six riders (47%) reported having received sponsor support for motocross participation. Sponsor support conferred a relative risk for concussion symptoms of 1.48 (95% CI 1.05–2.08, p = 0.02).
Nearly half of all motocross competitors under the age of 18 reported concussion symptoms. Preventive measures are necessary to limit the negative impact from concussions. The risk of concussive injury can be decreased for pediatric motocross riders if they receive professional help with proper helmet fitting and through implementation of stricter guidelines regarding sponsorship.
David J. Daniels, T. David Luo, Ross Puffer, Amy L. McIntosh, A. Noelle Larson, Nicholas M. Wetjen and Michelle J. Clarke
Motocross racing is a popular sport; however, its impact on the growing/developing pediatric spine is unknown. Using a retrospective cohort model, the authors compared the degree of advanced degenerative findings in young motocross racers with findings in age-matched controls.
Patients who had been treated for motocross-related injury at the authors' institution between 2000 and 2007 and had been under 18 years of age at the time of injury and had undergone plain radiographic or CT examination of any spinal region were eligible for inclusion. Imaging was reviewed in a blinded fashion by 3 physicians for degenerative findings, including endplate abnormalities, loss of vertebral body height, wedging, and malalignment. Acute pathological segments were excluded. Spine radiographs from age-matched controls were similarly reviewed and the findings were compared.
The motocross cohort consisted of 29 riders (mean age 14.7 years; 82% male); the control cohort consisted of 45 adolescents (mean age 14.3 years; 71% male). In the cervical spine, the motocross cohort had 55 abnormalities in 203 segments (average 1.90 abnormalities/patient) compared with 20 abnormalities in 213 segments in the controls (average 0.65/patient) (p = 0.006, Student t-test). In the thoracic spine, the motocross riders had 51 abnormalities in 292 segments (average 2.04 abnormalities/patient) compared with 25 abnormalities in 299 segments in the controls (average 1.00/patient) (p = 0.045). In the lumbar spine, the motocross cohort had 11 abnormalities in 123 segments (average 0.44 abnormalities/patient) compared with 15 abnormalities in 150 segments in the controls (average 0.50/patient) (p = 0.197).
Increased degenerative changes in the cervical and thoracic spine were identified in adolescent motocross racers compared with age-matched controls. The long-term consequences of these changes are unknown; however, athletes and parents should be counseled accordingly about participation in motocross activities.
David J. Daniels, Michelle J. Clarke, Ross Puffer, T. David Luo, Amy L. McIntosh and Nicolas M. Wetjen
Off-road motorcycling is a very popular sport practiced by countless people worldwide. Despite its popularity, not much has been published on the severity and distribution of central nervous system–related injuries associated with this activity in the pediatric population. The purpose of this study was to confirm, characterize, and document the rate of head and spine injuries associated with off-road motorcycling in this population.
All patients aged 18 years or less who were treated for a motorbike injury at the authors' institution (a Level 1 regional trauma center) between 2000 and 2007 were identified through in-house surgical and trauma registries. Type, mechanism, and severity of CNS-related injuries were assessed, including: incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), loss of consciousness (LOC), Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, head CT findings, neurological deficits, spinal fractures, cervical strain, and use of protective gear, including helmets.
During the 8-year period of study, 298 accidents were evaluated in 248 patients. The patients' mean age at the time of injury was 14.2 ± 2.7 years. Head injury or TBI was identified in 60 (20.1%) of 298 cases (involving 58 of 248 patients). Fifty-seven cases were associated with LOC, and abnormalities were identified on head CT in 10 patients; these abnormalities included skull fractures and epidural, subdural, subarachnoid, and intraparenchymal hemorrhages. The GCS score was abnormal in 11 cases and ranged from 3 to 15, with an overall mean of 14.5. No patients required cranial surgery. Helmet use was confirmed in 43 (71.6%) of the cases involving TBI. Spine fractures were identified in 13 patients (4.3%) and 5 required surgical fixation for their injury.
The authors found a high occurrence of head injuries following pediatric off-road motorcycle riding or motocross accidents despite the use of helmets. Additionally, this study severely underestimates the rate of mild TBIs in this patient population. Our data indicate that motocross is a high-risk sport despite the use of protective gear. Riders and parents should be counseled accordingly about the risks prior to participation.