Document Type


Publication Date



Maine Medical Center, Medical Education, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Sports Medicine, Orthepedics

MeSH Headings

Athletes, Sports


Purpose: We analyzed injury data from the Seattle Special Olympics USA Games 2018. Our findings and analysis may inform ways by which medical coverage at future similar events can be reinforced, prepared, and improved.

Methods: Deidentified injury data, collected by the RaceSafe app, was categorized by injury type: Musculoskeletal (MSK), Non-musculoskeletal (Non-MSK) and Minor Injury (including ice, bandaging, and massage). Individual event data was analyzed by percent of athletes injured and by injuries per 1000 athlete exposures. For each team sport, injury data was analyzed by injuries per game.

Results: The individual events with the highest percent of athletes injured were gymnastics (38.5%, 95% CI 22.4-62.0), tennis (31.5, 95% CI 21.5-44.7) and stand-up paddleboard (28.6%, 95% CI 11.6-59.4). The individual event with the lowest percent of athletes injured was golf (12.9%, 7.9-19.9). Among the gymnastics and tennis injuries, 53.3% and 58.6% were MSK, respectively. For stand-up paddleboard there were no MSK injuries with the majority being non-MSK (66.7%). Per 1000 athlete exposures, gymnastics had the highest rate of MSK injuries at 25.6 (95% CI 11.9-48.7), while stand-up paddleboard had the highest rate of both non-MSK injuries at 95.2 (95% CI 30.3-23.0) and minor injuries at 47.6 (95% CI 8.0-157.3). The team sports with the highest rate of injuries per game were softball at 1.9 (95% CI 1.6-2.4), followed by soccer at 1.7 (95% CI 1.4-2.0), and flag football at 1.6 (95% CI 1.3-1.9).

Conclusion: The Special Olympics 2018 USA Games required a well-staffed and organized medical team to meet the injury needs of its athletes. Based on our analysis, future events should provide a team with many medical personnel divided amongst the competition venues. A unique feature of the Special Olympics is the high rates of non-MSK injuries requiring medical attention, and appropriate measures should be taken to address these conditions.


2020 Costas T. Lambrew Research Retreat