ACC claims up for dancing, skateboarding

BY ESTHER HARWARD
Last updated 09:14 07/02/2010

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Budding dance divas trying to emulate the moves on reality TV shows like Dancing with the Stars may have contributed to a surge in ACC claims to treat injuries caused by dancing.

New figures released by the Accident Compensation Corporation show that dancing generated 7277 injury claims last year, up from 3498 five years ago. The claims cost the corporation $5.3 million (up from $2m).

Those in the dance industry say its increasing popularity, thanks to shows like DWTS, could be the source of the increased injuries.

Other "minority" sports, such as skateboarding, have also seen huge increases in injury claims, according to the latest data, which is being attributed to video clips egging people on to try flashy moves.

Four sports have consistently topped ACC's annual list of sports-related claims since 2005: rugby union, soccer, netball and cycling.

But the most dramatic claims increases have been in lesser-played sports. Skateboarding saw 8390 claims last year at a cost of $5.9m; up from 3752 claims five years ago at a cost of $1.9m. And jogging - hardly an aggressive sport - had 14,366 claims (up from 5372 five years ago) at a cost of $6.5m (from $1.6m).

Rebecca Nicholson, a former DWTS contestant, said the show had popularised ballroom and Latin dance styles. "A lot more people are taking up dancing. It's probably everyone giving it a go instead of watching. I think it's awesome."

People were attempting more daring moves, such as those they saw on DWTS, which could cause injury, especially if executed in high heels.

"In ballroom you're dancing on up to three-inch heels, and that definitely affects your knees and your back." She had claimed ACC for a damaged sciatic nerve in her back while rehearsing for DWTS.

"Sometimes when I got down I wouldn't be able to get up."

A Skateboarding Association spokesman, Anthony McLeod, said imported DVDs showing pro skaters doing moves or "tricks" were popular with Kiwi skaters.

The clips were getting more detailed and some of the moves "incredibly hard", he said.

Children as young as seven could be seen at skateboard bowls attempting advanced manoeuvres, he said.

Other sports that have seen big increases in injury claims since 2005 are:

* Gym and fitness training (14,866 claims costing $8.1m in 2009; up from 3834, costing $1m in 2005)

* Weightlifting (7185 costing $4.8m; up from 4160 at $1.9m)

* And tennis (9255 costing $6.1m; up from 5731 at $3.2m).

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The biggest generator of injuries - rugby union - cost the national purse $59m last year (62,612 claims), compared to $34m five years ago (49,717 claims).

But that doesn't mean people should stick to their knitting, says Nicholson. "If you always do it the safe way, you're not ever going to get any better at it."

McLeod agrees: "It's scary to learn a new trick and the feeling you get after you've learnt it, there's nothing else like it - the adrenalin rush."

- Sunday Star Times

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