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March 21, 2007

Exercise and Sports, Insulin Pumps

Question from Delray Beach, Florida, USA:

It has been suggested that we should try using a pump for my eight-year-old grandson. For one thing, I feel he is too immature and might mismanage it or even dislodge it, drop it or damage it in some way. He is very athletic and also takes karate. In karate class, the boys wrestle (called grappling) as well as the regular martial arts. I am unsure if the pump would be an option under these circumstances. Even if the pump were disconnected, wouldn't there still be the connection which could cause a problem during wrestling? I would appreciate your opinion on this and if it is a good idea now or should be postponed until he is older.


Wearing a pump during contact sports or even just wrestling around is possible. It is possible to protect the pump with some padding during contact sports. Consider using a protective padding similar to the type used when protecting a bruise on the thigh. A pad about 0.25 of an inch thick is cut a little bigger (about 2 inches) than the bruise on the thigh. Cutting a hole in the middle of the padding to the size of the bruise then placing over the bruise for protection. Cut a second pad equal to the first but no hole is cut in the middle. Place the first pad (the one with the hole cut out) over the bruise. Place the second pad over the first pad and secure it with an ace bandage or hold in place with compression shorts. If the athlete is hit on the bruise, the upper pad disperses the force. When making the pad for a pump, the only difference would be to cut the hole out of the first pad to the size of the insulin pump. If there are pads to protect knees and elbows, there are pads to protect insulin pumps. Wearing the protective padding with the pump in it is up to the individual.

Some kids feel more comfortable taking the pump off, which is okay, as long as the pump is not off for more than an hour. It may be necessary to reconnect and give some insulin if the blood sugar is high.

The infusion set usually will stay in place during activities. If the tape loses it adhesiveness due to perspiration, there are products that may help such as Tincture of Benzoin, antiperspirant, Skin Bond � (Latex based), Mastisol � (Latex-free) and Skin-Tac-H � (Latex-free).

It is up to the individual and/or healthcare team to decide whether to wear the pump during contact sports or even horseplay, but have a plan either way.