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October 31, 2007

Exercise and Sports, Insulin Pumps

Question from East Lansing, Michigan, USA:

My six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five months ago. She is a gymnast. We are considering transitioning to a pump. She currently has gymnastics practice three days per week for three to four hours each session. Are there other gymnasts who use a pump? Do they wear the pump during gymnastics? If yes, where on their body? If no, how do they manage their insulin?

Answer:

Wearing a pump for gymnastics can be challenging, especially during long practices. Obviously, it can be taken off during the actual competition and be re-attached between events. During practice, it can be secured with “fanny pack” that is the size of the pump. Unique Accessories is one organization that carries accessories for the pump. A gymnast should be able to wear the pump for conditioning, floor exercise, horse, and possibly the balance beam depending on the routine. It probably would be difficult to wear it practicing on the uneven bars.

Some athletes like to wear the pack on the low back with the strap secured around the waist. Others like to wear it in the front of the body at the stomach.

Another technique is to keep the pump off during practice but hook back up at about the hour mark and give insulin if blood sugar is going high or replace 50% of basal insulin lost during the time off the pump.

A discussion with the health care team is essential for safety and success with these techniques.

RP