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Outdoor Recreation May Lead to ER

Nearly 213,000 Americans Visit Emergency Rooms Each Year Because of Recreation Injuries
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 10, 2008 -- Injuries from outdoor recreational activities send an estimated 212,708 Americans to emergency rooms every year.

That's according to the CDC's first estimate of injuries sustained during outdoor recreational activities.

Highlights from the study, published in June's edition of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, include:

  • Snowboarding accounted for the most injuries, followed by sledding and hiking.
  • Most injuries are due to falls.
  • Boys and men aged 10-35 account for the greatest number of injuries.
  • Legs and arms are the two most commonly injured body parts, followed by the head or neck.
  • Most injuries are fractures, strains, or sprains.
  • Traumatic brain injury accounted for 6.5% of the injuries.

Those findings are based on 2004-2005 data from 100 U.S. emergency rooms.

You needn't stay inside. Just take some precautions. Here's what the CDC recommends:

  • Stay fit, know your skill level and experience, and don't exceed your limits.
  • Check and maintain your gear, replacing it when needed.
  • Carry a first-aid kit.
  • Tell others where you're going.
  • Wear a helmet if one is recommended for your activity.

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

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