This case involves a 9-year-old boy who was injured after attempting a maneuver on a balance beam. The incident occurred at a gym that trains children in gymnastics. The boy was learning a new handstand move in a class of 10 students and 1 instructor. After a brief demonstration, the boy was called to the beam to execute the move. There was no spotter and the instructor was standing about 10 feet away. The boy attempted the handstand, fell, and suffered a head injury as well as a significant fracture of his wrist. The boy required surgery for the injury. An expert in gymnastics training was sought to speak to proper protocols in supervision and maintaining safety.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have familiarity with the subject matter described above?
- 2. Have you ever had a child/patron suffer an injury like the one noted above?
- 3. What could have been done to prevent the accident?
Expert Witness Response E-004453
I have been the head coach of men’s gymnastics at a university in the northeast for 40 years. I run a boys’ gymnastics program geared toward competing in the U.S. Junior Olympic program. I’m familiar with the maneuver in question being executed in a floor exercise, but not on balance beam. I’ve never heard of an accident involving that skill before. Skills on balance beam are often trained on the floor and then on a low balance beam before transitioning to a higher beam. If a child has executed a skill previously, a spotter may not be necessary. If a child is learning a new skill, for the first time or two a spotter may prevent injury. Adequate matting reduces the likelihood of injury in a fall but doesn’t eliminate the chance.