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aking Simple Precautions While Working and Playing Outdoors Can Help Prevent Neurological Injuries

NeurologyMar 17, 09

As warm weather approaches, many people are eager to get back to outdoor activities and projects, such as gardening, home improvement, and workshop activities. But according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), many of these activities actually send thousands of people to U.S. hospital emergency rooms every year. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks product-related injuries through its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

Every year, an estimated 1.5 million people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for head injuries and nearly 12,000 are treated for neck fractures. Thousands of these injuries are tied to sports and recreational activities. Not so obvious, however, is that common and often seemingly harmless products found in backyards, gardens, garages, and home workshops also contribute to these injuries.

A few true-life cases reported by the CPSC:

• A 15-month-old girl fell off the swing set in her backyard, suffering a hematoma and skull fracture.

• A 3-year-old boy fell off a shed and sustained a skull fracture.

• A 4-year-old girl was playing in the sprinkler, fell, hit her head and sustained a hematoma.

• A 6-year-old girl fell over a lawn decoration and onto the driveway, suffering a concussion.

• A 13-year-old boy was fixing a lawn mower with wrenches, fell on the mower deck, and suffered facial lacerations and a concussion.

• A 52-year-old male fell off his porch and suffered a neck fracture at C 2.

• A 62-year-old male fell off a ladder while painting, incurring a skull fracture and brain contusion.

The following 20 outdoor-related categories contributed to the highest number of estimated head injuries treated in 2007 (sports not included):

• Ladders, all types: 17,124

• Porches, balconies, open-sided floors: 16,124

• Swings and swing sets: 10,727

• Fences, fence posts: 10,152

• Workshop (power and hand tools, supplies): 9,666

• Monkey bars, other playground climbing equipment: 7,630

• Trampolines: 7,075

• Slides, sliding boards, see saws, teeter boards: 6,565

• Playground equipment (unspecified or other): 5,017

• Garage doors: 2,236

• All lawn mowers: 2,002

• Decorative yard equipment: 1,968

• Camping equipment (excl. trailers): 1,666

• Garden hoses, nozzles, sprinklers: 1,620

• Greenhouse or gardening supplies: 1,428

• Amusement attractions (including rides): 1,417

• Unpowered garden tools: 1,410

• Hammocks: 1,358

• Pruning and trimming equipment: 907

• Tool sheds: 898

The majority of these injuries can be prevented, by taking a few simple safety measures.

AANS Outdoor Injury Prevention Tips

• Inspect and remove debris from walkways, driveways, porches, and yards.

• Inspect and remove debris from lawns before mowing or gardening.

• Store outdoor equipment and tools properly.

• Make sure that ladders are stable and secure before using them.

• Do not use broken equipment or tools.

• Install outdoor handrails if elderly or frail.

• Do not let children engage in activities inappropriate for their age.

• Supervise younger children at all times.

• Do not let children use playgrounds with hard surface grounds.

• Do not dive in above ground pools or water less than 12 feet deep.

• Wear helmets for all wheeled sports and powered recreational vehicles.

The AANS has more information on injury prevention online at http://www.NeurosurgeryToday.org, under Patient Safety Tips.

Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with more than 7,400 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. All active members of the AANS are certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Neurosurgery) of Canada or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, AC. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system, including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain and peripheral nerves.

Source: American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)

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