CDC: One quarter of all ED visits during winter are due to snowboarding, sledding accidents

Riley Purpur, 14, was doing a little night sledding with his friends at Berens Park in Elmhurst on Jan. 13 when he broke his ankle.

"I had just completed a run and was on my sled at the bottom of the hill when my friend, who was next in line to go down, crashed into me," he said. The freshman at York Community High School who has played competitive hockey for a decade and who snowboards and skiis, hobbled to the side to assess the damage. "It didn't really hurt at first and I didn't think it was broken," he said.

Broken bones due to snowboarding and sledding top the list of common causes for visits to the Emergency Department (ED) during the winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) one quarter of all ED visits are attributed to snowboarding accidents,, and half of all cases were broken bones and sprains.

"Chicagoans embrace winter with gusto largely because of the great love for hockey, sledding and iceskating," said Gottlieb Memorial Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Daryl O'Connor, who formerly cared for U.S. Olympic ski and winter sports athletes in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. O'Connor is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and now specializes in sports medicine in the Orthopaedic Department at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System.

Deborah Purpur, Riley's mother, kept an eye on her son's ankle that night, and, after a recommendation by a friend the next morning, took her son to the ED for an x-ray. "After understanding that it was indeed broken and not just badly sprained, we went to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital Professional Building where Dr. Jeffrey Meisles explained the break in the tibia and then casted Riley," she said. "I chose green, my favorite color," said Riley, of the boot that also causes him to use crutches.

"Riley suffered a fracture in the tibia, which is the most common long-bone fracture, and will likely heal without any problems," said Meisles, an orthopedic specialist. "The tibia is a weight-bearing bone, and it is important that it heal correctly, so we will assess his progress in the next few weeks."

"Some sports injuries can cause long-term problems. In some cases, even after the original injury heals, permanent or arthritic problems can occur," said O'Connor, who works in partnership with Meisles at Gottlieb.

For Riley, the greatest pain hasn't been the broken ankle, cast and crutches. "It really hurts to be sidelined from playing hockey during the season, and to not be on the team," he said. "I live for hockey which is a much more dangerous sport, and am really disappointed to have been injured by sledding."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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