Orthopedic surgeon discusses tips for summer injury prevention
Improving the health of the United States involves reducing the risk for injuries and preventing future injuries from occurring. In an interview with Healio.com/Orthopedics, Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, former communications cabinet chair and current treasurer elect for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, spoke about ways to prevent orthopedic injuries that commonly occur during the summer season.
“We have been involved over the past 20 years in campaigns on things like lawnmower injuries, diving injuries, now the distracted pedestrian epidemic that we have talked about and we have published some articles on,” Hilibrand, vice chairman for academic affairs and faculty development at Jefferson Medical College, told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Even simple things like highlighting the fragility of the weekend warrior, which was a big topic of ours in the past ... I think we have done a lot to improve the health of America by advocating for prevention in addition to treating these injuries.”
Although swimming and diving injuries are rare, they are the most tragic because they can result in paralysis, according to Hilibrand.
“We say know before you dive where you are diving, how deep it is and generally people should jump and not dive into that body of water,” he said.
When at the beach, individuals should follow the instructions of the Coast Guard and the lifeguards to avoid both common orthopedic injuries and spine injuries.
“Every summer we see several people brought to our institution who have spinal cord injuries who are doing nothing more than just boogie boarding at the beach,” Hilibrand said.
Whole body injuries
Bicycle riding injuries can occur in several areas of the body, including the arms, legs and head. Hilibrand said bikers should wear a helmet and bright reflective clothing and avoid riding at night.
Whole body injuries can also occur when individuals are distracted while they are walking, either by listening to music or sending text messages and emails, Hilibrand said.
“The advice is to look up and always be looking up and be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “If you need to do something on your phone, step out of the flow of traffic.”
Home improvement injuries
In recent years, more focus has been placed on preventing injuries associated with home improvement work, such as ladder injuries, according to Hilibrand.
“People tend to go outside in the summer and do a lot of home improvement activities and people falling from ladders is a common cause of injury to the foot and ankle and sometimes to the spine, as well,” he said.
When using a ladder, it is recommended to stay off the top of the ladder, fix the ladder on a sturdy surface, extend the ladder fully so it is stable and avoid using extension ladders, Hilibrand said.
Other injuries that can occur in the home revolve around lawnmowers.
“We have not talked about [lawnmower injuries] in a long time, but I think the manufacturers are doing a lot to try to make lawnmowers safer,” Hilibrand said. “It used to be a real issue, especially when little kids were around when the lawn was being cut in terms of lawnmower injuries to children, but also to adults: adults cutting the lawn not wearing proper footwear, reaching under lawnmowers when there is a problem.” – by Casey Tingle
Disclosure: Hilibrand reports no relevant financial disclosures.