Recreational Sports Injuries and Patient Self-Care

Article excerpt

The Department of Health & Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Surgeon General, and the American College of Sports Medicine all suggest that adults engage in physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Engaging in physical exercise may enhance activities of daily living, improve appearance, and improve general fitness. The types of physical activity recommended range from brisk walking to raking leaves to running to playing volleyball. Unfortunately, approximately 60% of all American adults do not engage in regular physical activity In fact, 25% are not active at all.

Most American adults are physically unfit, and they increase their risk of injury when they begin a physical activity program or attempt physical activities that require moderate to vigorous intensities. This at-risk group includes adults who are members of recreational teams that participate in games once a week, with little or no physical activity during the week, and adults who do physically demanding work on an infrequent basis. Often these groups are known as "weekend warriors" because they participate in activities only on the weekend. This pattern of physical activity increases the risk of injury. The purpose of this lesson is to describe what sports injuries (site and type) are the most common, what kind of self-care is recommended to reduce the time lost from activity, and how to reduce the chronic effects of the injury.

Definition of injury

There are four different levels of sports-related injuries (see Table 1). These definitions describe the severity of the injury and whether any time was lost from participating in physical activity. Another useful measure of severity is whether or not the patient went to an emergency room, urgent care clinic, or physician because of the injury.

Incidence of injury

A study examining the physical activity rates and injuries (time-- loss and complaints) of approximately 1,000 adults helped put the rates of recreational sports injuries into perspective. The participants in this study engaged in a total of 10,582 hours of activity over 12 weeks, for an average of 10.7 weeks per participant. The rates of all injuries (time-loss and complaints) and time-loss injuries were 7.83 per 1,000 hours of activity and 5.92 per 1,000 hours of activity, respectively. This translates into 2.33 injuries per year for all injuries and 1.76 injuries per year for only the time-loss injuries, based on the observed average hours per week (5.73 hours/week x 52). It was reported that time-loss injuries (> Level II) made up 75% of all injuries or complaints. Among the time-loss injuries, about 25% altered participation, 65% stopped participation, and 11% altered activities of daily living.

Most common types of Injuries

The most common types of injuries, in rank order, with the percentage of participants who lost time from their activities, shown in parentheses, are: 1. "pain-ache" (81%), 2. strain (91%), 3. inflammation (78%), 4. sprain (69%), and 5. contusion (79%). The six most common anatomical sites, in rank order, with the percentage of participants who lost time from their activities, shown in parentheses, are: 1. knee (71%), 2. low back (92%), 3. shoulder (87%), 4. leg (79%), 5. ankle (65%), and 6. foot and toe (65%).

A pain-ache type of injury is defined as anything that cannot be specifically categorized as a sprain, strain, inflammation, or contusion but causes the sensation of pain. A sprain is defined as the partial or complete stretching or tearing of ligaments and other tissue at a joint. A strain is the stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon fibers. Inflammation is a diseased condition of some part of the body, resulting from injury, infection, or irritation.

Signs and symptoms of specific Injuries

Common signs and symptoms for injuries are pain, swelling, deformity, discoloration of the skin, inability to use the affected body part normally, and loss of sensation in the affected body part. …