There is currently no consensus on the safety of sports participation for patients with Chiari I malformation (CM-I). The authors' goal was to define the risk of sports participation for children with the imaging finding of CM-I.
A prospective survey was administered to 503 CM-I patients at 2 sites over a 46-month period. Data were gathered on imaging characteristics, treatment, sports participation, and any sport-related injuries. Additionally, 81 patients completed at least 1 subsequent survey following their initial entry into the registry and were included in a prospective group, with a mean prospective follow-up period of 11 months.
Of the 503 CM-I patients, 328 participated in sports for a cumulative duration of 4641 seasons; 205 of these patients participated in contact sports. There were no serious or catastrophic neurological injuries. One patient had temporary extremity paresthesias that resolved within hours, and this was not definitely considered to be related to the CM-I. In the prospective cohort, there were no permanent neurological injuries.
No permanent or catastrophic neurological injuries were observed in CM-I patients participating in athletic activities. The authors believe that the risk of such injuries is low and that, in most cases, sports participation by children with CM-I is safe.