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Paintball popularity leading to increase of injuries

By: Ruben Veloz
EL PASO, Texas -- Paintball fields are growing around the country, and the sport is gaining popularity among teens and young adults. When played properly, paintball is actually considered one of the safest sports in America, .but the paintball guns are also leading to some major injuries.

"Mainly the injuries that you are going to have are blunt traumas, said Jose Rincon. 
Rincon is a physician assistant at Las Palmas Medical center in central El Paso, and he tells KFOX14 hospitals around the country are seeing an increase in paintball injuries, mainly because people are not wearing the proper gear.
"Our main concern with these kinds of injuries is when the ball hits the eyes. That's our main concern."
Paintball guns can shoot projectiles at 200 miles an hour, which can cause major bruising and can even break the skin; in some cases people have suffered permanent eye damage for not wearing protective eye gear. 
"The main injury that we see with paintball is something that we call ifema, said Rincon, That is blood in the interior camera of the eye, and that can lead to nerve damage."
According to a most recent report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 20,000 people went to the emergency room with paintball injuries in 2008; 60 percent of those ER visits were from kids under the age of 17.
Rincon said many people have lost an eye as a result of these injuries. 
"Do it in a proper setting, use the proper gear and whenever you are going to be using the guns for paintball, put it in a safe place, don't let the kids grab those guns because accidents can happen, said Rincon. 
He said people need to consider the dangers that can come with these guns before they buy one for themselves or their kids. He said doing so could prevent a hefty hospital fee and a serious injury. 
"Protect your eyes, the face; use a proper mask, something that has the proper equipment."
There are at least 6 paintball fields in El Paso County that people can go to. 
A proper paintball mask can anywhere from $50 to $150, which is a lot cheaper than most paintball guns or even a bill from the hospital.