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Winter Sports Safety Can Be Tough Sledding

Winter Sports Safety Can Be Tough Sledding

More than 440,000 persons were treated in hospitals, doctors' offices, and emergency departments for winter sports–related injuries in 2010, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were more than 58,500 injuries involving ice skating, 91,000 with sledding and tobogganing, 44,000 with snow skiing, and 148,000 with snowboarding.

Injuries that frequently result from skiing, skating, and sledding include sprains and muscle strains, dislocations, and fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), which noted that winter sports activities have the potential for severe injuries if proper safety precautions are not practiced. As part of the AAOS’ ongoing Prevent Injuries America! campaign, the organization offers children and adults the following tips for winter sports injury prevention:

• Check the weather for snow and ice conditions before heading outdoors. For warmth and protection, wear several layers of light, loose, and water- and wind-resistant clothing; layering accommodates the body's constantly changing temperature.

• Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves, and padding. Check to make sure that all equipment, such as ski and snowboard bindings, is in good working order. Children should wear a helmet for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and even skating.

• Avoid participating in a winter sport alone. If possible, ski with a partner and stay within sight of each other. Observe all marked hazard and trail signs and do not venture into closed areas.

• Warm up thoroughly before playing because cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.

• Drink plenty of water before, during, and after outdoor activities to stay hydrated. Avoid intake of alcohol, which can increase the chances of hypothermia.

• Keep in shape and condition your muscles before partaking in winter activities.

• Learn how to fall correctly to avoid injury. If skiing, learn how to properly hold the poles with the strap to avoid "skier's thumb."

• To help alleviate the risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury, avoid high-risk ski behavior, maintain balance and control, and recognize and respond correctly to dangerous situations.

• Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you are experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Early frostbite symptoms include numbness and tingling in your digits, lack of feeling, and poor motion.

• Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted.

• Follow up with an orthopedic surgeon if you are injured, especially if pain or discomfort persists.

For more information, visit the AAOS Web site at http://www.aaos.org. Or, contact the organization at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 6300 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018-4262; telephone: (847) 823-7186; fax: (847) 823-8125.

 
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