Equipment Padding

Real Life Claims

In the summer of 2006, several young men met at a local sports facility for a competitive pick-up basketball game. A 19-year-old stole a pass at mid-court and rushed toward the basket for an easy lay-up. As he jumped, he made contact with a defender in mid-air. The young man was unintentionally forced to the ground and ultimately collided head-first with an unpadded gym wall. He was knocked unconscious, but eventually came to. He was taken to the hospital because of lingering head and shoulder pain.

Six days later, the young man died from complications caused by a skull fracture and brain contusions. A neurosurgeon familiar with the accident stated that had the wall been padded, the impact experienced would have been less than 25 percent of the force experienced in the collision with an unpadded wall. Simple padding would have prevented the concussion, skull fracture, brain contusions, and ultimately death. After this incident, the gym installed athletic pads on both ends of the basketball court. The total cost to do this was less than $1,000.

Preventing Gym Collision Injuries

While true, this story is an extreme example of what can happen when athletic equipment padding is non-existent or poorly maintained. A variety of other injuries, however, can occur when padding is not used effectively. These actions should be taken to ensure serious accidents do not occur at your fitness center:

  • Secure all obstructions within 20 feet of playing surfaces. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Basketball hoop supports;
    • Volleyball nets;
    • Bleachers and benches;
    • Scoreboards;
    • Football goal posts;
  • Emphasize safe levels of physical contact between members.
  • Ensure that all new members are comfortable with your facility.
  • Point out any areas that may present opportunities for injury such as large steps.
  • Use bright paint or signs to highlight obstacles in your facility.
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