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Men outpace women in exercise-related head and face injuries

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Men outpace women in exercise-related head and face injuries


Exercise-related injuries to the head and face have increased in recent years, rising almost 33 percent overall from 2013 to 2022, according to a study in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.

Men accounted for nearly 56 percent of those injured, but the increase in incidence in the 10-year span was nearly twice as high in women as in men (44.5 vs. 24.2 percent). By age, those 15 to 19 had the highest rate of head and face injuries at about 10 percent.

The study’s findings stem from analysis of information on 582,972 craniofacial injuries that had led to emergency department visits and were attributed to exercise, including weightlifting, or exercise equipment. The information had been recorded in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Close to half of the injuries (45 percent) affected the head, and the most prevalent craniofacial injury types were internal injuries and lacerations, each at about 25 percent, followed by bruises, sprains and strains.

Most of the people injured (91 percent) were released after emergency room treatment and not admitted to a hospital. The number of people who sustained craniofacial injuries was “likely underreported” in the database, the researchers said, because those hurt while exercising “may not always seek care” in an ER.

Although the study does not indicate how the injuries occurred, it suggests the high rate of injury among adolescents may stem from “a combination of inexperience and an inclination to lift weights and exercise at high intensity.”

For men, the researchers cited so-called ego-lifting as a possible contributor, with men “often impelled by social pressures to exercise and lift weights beyond their current capacity.” This “sacrifices good technique in pursuit of better numbers or metrics and proves hazardous, especially to the inexperienced participant,” they wrote.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.



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