Study Presents National Outdoor Recreational Injury Estimates

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Almost 213,000 people were treated each year in emergency departments for outdoor recreational injuries from 2004 to 2005, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. Of those injured, about 109,000 (51.5 percent) were young people between the ages of 10 and 24.

For both men and women of all ages, the most common injuries were fractures (27.4 percent) and sprains (23.9 percent). Of these, most injuries were to the arms or legs (52 percent) or to the head or neck (23.3 percent). Overall, 6.5 percent of outdoor injuries treated were diagnosed as traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Researchers found that snowboarding (25.5 percent), sledding (10.8 percent), and hiking (6.3 percent) were associated with the highest percentage of injuries requiring emergency department visits.

"Participation in outdoor recreation is increasingly popular in the United States," said Arlene Greenspan, Dr. PH and co-author of the study. "The good news is that there are ways to help stay safe while having healthy fun outdoors. For example, by wearing the appropriate helmet for snowboarding, snowmobiling, sledding and rock climbing, you can reduce your risk of having a head injury, which could become a traumatic brain injury. Helmets are one piece of equipment that can have a critical, positive impact."

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The study points out that wilderness injury prevention begins with planning, preparation, and problem anticipation. Outdoor adventurers can help prevent injuries by:

* Maintaining their levels of fitness, knowing their skill levels and experience, and not exceeding their limits.

* Checking and maintaining their equipment and replacing if needed.

* Carrying a first-aid kit (and, if appropriate for the situation, a two-way communication device.)

* Alerting others about where they are going.

"We encourage people of all ages to enjoy recreational activities to stay healthy and fit," said Ileana Arias, Ph.D., director of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "With proper planning and preparation, you can anticipate potential problems and reduce possible injuries and long-term consequences."

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