National estimates of outdoor recreational injuries treated in emergency departments, United States, 2004-2005

Wilderness Environ Med. 2008 Summer;19(2):91-8. doi: 10.1580/07-WEME-OR-152.1.


Objective: To provide national estimates of nonfatal outdoor recreational injuries treated in US emergency departments (EDs).

Methods: Outdoor recreational injuries from January 2004 through December 2005 were identified using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program, a nationally representative sample of ED visits. National estimates of outdoor recreational injuries were calculated, and activities leading to injury, demographic characteristics, principal diagnoses, and primary body parts affected were described.

Results: From January 2004 through December 2005, an estimated 212 708 (95% CI = 113 808- 311 608) persons were treated each year in US EDs for outdoor recreational injuries. The annual rate of injuries was 72.1 per 100 000 population (95% CI = 38.6-105.6). Males accounted for 68.2% of the injuries. The lower limb (27%), upper limb (25%), and head and neck region (23.3%) were the most commonly injured body regions. Fractures (27.4%) and sprains or strains (23.9%) were the most common diagnoses. Traumatic brain injuries were diagnosed in 6.5% of injuries, and 5% of injuries resulted in hospitalization or transfer to another hospital.

Conclusions: The results of this study provide a starting point for further research into the epidemiology of outdoor and wilderness injury. The results reinforce many common perceptions about the nature of these injuries while highlighting the potential severity and long-term consequences of the injuries. The general recommendations of proper planning, preparation, and problem anticipation for outdoor and wilderness injury prevention should be followed to reduce both the number and severity of injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / pathology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Extremities / injuries*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / pathology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recreation*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology