Spring to Safety: When Outdoor Activities Leave Us Injured

Leg InjurySay goodbye to the Polar Vortex and hello to the sun! It’s the time of year where we get out from under the covers and start signing up for outdoor activities and sports. Getting active outdoors helps us stay fit and healthy, and is a source of fun when spending time with family and friends. Though those are all positive outcomes from outdoor play, there can be unintended, and sometimes dangerous, consequences in the form of serious physical injury.

Some of the most common sports injuries, according to the National Institutes of Health, are:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Knee injuries
  • Swollen muscles
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Though many of the injuries listed above can be easily prevented with proper stretching and warm ups, and can be treated with the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), traumatic brain injuries may require emergency medical attention.

Sometimes, a mild hit can occur to the head, whether by falls, bumping into things, or being hit by others. However, even a mild hit can develop into something more serious and can disrupt the normal functioning of your brain. Concussions and mild TBI’s are the most common types of brain injuries, with approximately 1.7 million people suffering from them each year, and they contribute to a third of all injury related deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mild symptoms may include feelings of confusion, drowsiness, minor memory loss, seeing flashing lights and a headache, in which case your doctor should see you as soon as possible. However, if you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately to seek emergency medical care:

  • Changes in consciousness
  • Constant confusion that doesn’t go away quickly
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Muscle weakness on one or both sides of the body
  • Unequal pupil size between the two eyes (one larger, one smaller)
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Remaining unconsciousness (coma)
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Balancing problems, affecting walking and other movement

To prepare for emergencies that may happen during your time outside, print out this handy guide to Know When to Go to the ER, and stick it on your fridge for quick reference in the future, or go to your general practitioner for assistance with non-urgent medical needs.

Related Resources

Saint Joseph’s Emergency Department
Play It Safe: Know the Signs of a Concussion


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