Head Injury from Summer Fun

As temperatures rise, so do the number of head injuries, including traumatic brain injury and concussion, head lacerations, and skull fractures.

Weeks of vacation and sultry weather make outdoor sports more popular, and whenever people get active, there are bound to be injuries. This week, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) issued a reminder to enjoy summertime sports safely.

Over a one-year period from 2008 to 2009, the numbers of head injuries rose for nearly every sport (the single exception: Trampoline!). Heading the list (pun intended) are bicycling, water sports, baseball and softball. Cyclists suffered the most head injuries–more than 85,000 were reported in a single year, up from about 71,000. And the number water-related head injuries more than doubled, from 11,200 to than 28,700.

“By taking a minute or two to use your head, you can help prevent potentially life-altering and tragic consequences,” Dr. Gail Rosseau, a Chicago-area neurosurgeon and AANS spokeswoman, said in an association news release.

Surprising and Preventable Causes

When it comes to cycling, the AANS reports that at least part of the blame for the increase in injuries comes from–get this: use of cell phones! “Sidetracked cycling” is is as dangerous as “distracted driving.”

The AANS offers the following safety recommendations:

  • To prevent biking accidents, the organization encourages riders to use helmets, obey traffic signals, avoid uneven surfaces, wear bright colors and reflectors at night, and avoid cell phone use.
  • To increase water safety, AANS advocates for adult supervision of young children, careful diving in conjunction with accurate water-depth information, keeping gates locked around backyard pools, avoiding alcohol consumption during water-related activities, following posted instructions at public places, and enforcing a strict ban on potentially dangerous rough play.

And don’t forget that using cell phones while supervising young children around swimming pools could also be dangerous. If attention is needed, give attention. Of course, if you’re a glass-is-half-full kind of person, you could take the AANS report as a license to turn off the cell phone and enjoy your time outdoors. Summer, sports, and safety–that’s having it all!

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