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An analysis of injury risks associated with yoga: A silent time bomb?
journal contributionposted on 25.05.2018, 00:00 by Betul Sekendiz, C Finch
Background: Yoga is not only a popular type of recreational physical activity globally, but also is recognised as a natural therapy in Australia to improve fitness, health, and wellbeing. Despite the notion that yoga is a “low intensity activity” such as strolling at a pace of <3kph, results of a recent nationwide survey of yoga practitioners in Australia have shown alarming number of injuries. The aim of this study is to profile the yoga related emergency department (ED) presentations between July 2009 and June 2014 in Victoria. Methods: The Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset (VEMD) was used as the source of ED presentations between July 2009 and June 2014. Cases were selected on the basis that the text narrative describing the injury event included the term ‘yoga’. Cases were manually checked for relevance. Cases were restricted to those presenting for the first time for the episode. Results: There were 66 recorded ED presentations for yoga-related injuries during the five-year period. More than half of cases occurred in the 20-39 year age group (n=39, 59%) and females (n = 51, 77%).The body regions most frequently affected were the lower extremity (n=29, 44%) followed by the upper extremity (n=16, 24%) and the trunk (n=8, 12%).The most frequent injury types were dislocations/sprains/strains (n=31, 47%), fractures (n=12, 18%) and injury to muscle and tendon (n=7, 11%). Of the 47 cases with a specified place of injury location 36% occurred in the home (n = 17) and 19% occurred in sports and athletics areas (n=9). Discussion: The findings suggest that yoga can cause serious injuries, including some with a high personal cost with 8% of the ED cases subsequently admitted or transferred to another hospital for further treatment. Even though, yoga has been a part of the health and fitness industry in Australia for decades, it is unregulated and unstandardized. This study supports the need for future nationwide research to identify the risk management issues and practices in the yoga industry to minimise the risk of injuries and subsequent risk of legal liability for the yoga service providers.