Article Text

  1. K. L. Carter1,
  2. K. McDonald1,
  3. J. Waller1
  1. 1Augusta, GA.


Objective The medical team of Special Olympics in Georgia documented the rate of injuries occurring in state games.

Design During each state game, a medical practitioner documents the request of any participant who presents for medical attention during winter and summer games from 2000-2003. This is a survey of the rate and types of injuries occurring in state games for Special Olympics in Georgia.

Setting Medical personnel serve all participants in state games, including athletes, partners, volunteers, coaches, and state staff. These people come from across the state of Georgia to Atlanta to participate.

Subjects Special Olympics games provide athletic competition for people with cognitive delays (intelligence quotient less than 70). Medical practitioners provide medical advice and interventions to people with cognitive delays and the entire staff and volunteers supporting them. Every person who presented for medical advice or treatment was documented.

Results Approximately one percent of participants come to medical attention during state Special Olympics games in Georgia. Of the people requesting medical assistance, males are more likely to present (60.9%). Of the people who presented for care, athletes are the most likely to present at 59.5%. However, others present for attention, including volunteers (10.2%), fans (2.8%), coaches (1.4%), and staff (1.4%). There was no personal information documented in 24.2% of the people presenting for attention. Almost half (47%) received medical attention at a centralized location offering medical services. Medical personnel cover each venue, with 13% of the injuries occurring at basketball, 7% at floor hockey, 6% at track, 4% at bowling, 4% at ice skating, 3% at soccer, and the remainder at other venues and hotels (20%). Skin wounds comprised 42% of the requests for help, with 24% orthopedic injuries, 10% heat related injuries, 9% neurological events, 5% gastrointestinal illnesses, and 10% comprise other injuries. Interventions typically involved first aid, including treatment for abrasions (34%), tape and ice (26%), medications (12%), cooling and water (11%), and other treatments (17%). The vast majority returned to their activities, with only 5% requiring transportation to an emergency department.

Conclusion It is extremely safe to participate in state games in Special Olympics for all people, including people with cognitive delays. Special Olympics provide a valuable service in encouraging physical activity safely and effectively.

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