Spinal column damage from water ski jumping
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We conducted a radiographic survey of 117 competitive water ski jumpers to determine whether this sport can cause spinal column damage and, if so, whether damage is more likely to occur in those who participate during the period of spinal growth and development (age 15 years or younger). We found a high prevalence of two types of abnormality: Scheuermann (adolescent) spondylodystrophy (present in 26% of the skiers) and vertebral body wedging (present in 34%). The prevalence of adolescent spondylodystrophy increased with the number of years of participation in the sport before age 15 years or less. Of those in this age group who had skied for 5 years or more, 57 showed adolescent spondylodystrophy; of those in the same age group who had skied for 9 years or more, 100% were affected. Wedged vertebrae increased as time of participation increased, regardless of the age at which exposure began. We conclude that competitive water ski jumping may damage the spinal column and that consideration should be given to regulating this sport, particularly for children.
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