While many baby boomers-people between the ages of 37 and 55-are exercising more, many end up in hospital emergency rooms suffering from sports related injuries, according to Yale orthopaedic surgeon, Robert A. Stanton, M.D., who wants to raise awareness about this growing problem and offer preventative strategies.
Statistics show that most sports-related injuries affecting this age group come from bicycling, running, skiing and in-line skating. Although the injuries were relatively minor, Stanton said the bruises and sprains added up to nearly 90,000 injuries in one year-a 42 percent increase in the past decade.
"The majority of these injuries are preventable," said Stanton, clinical instructor of orthopaedics at Yale School of Medicine. "By following preventative steps, such as warming up, wearing bike helmets and knee pads, and increasing the rate of activity by only 10 percent per week, baby boomers will have fewer injuries."
Stanton said warming up is especially important, since muscle tissue becomes less flexible with age. He suggests taking a few minutes to walk before slowly stretching the back and the legs. Depending on the sport, wearing a bike helmet is also key because adults are twice as likely to die from a head injury as kids are. Only 43 percent of baby boomers wear bike helmets.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that between 1991 and 1998, golf and swimming injuries increased 110 percent; ice hockey and weightlifting injuries, 75 percent; soccer injuries, 55 percent; bicycling, 45 percent; volleyball, 44 percent; and football 43 percent.
To increase awareness about this growing problem, Stanton is involved in Boomeritis; a public education program aimed at reducing the number of sports-related injuries among baby boomers. The program is run by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and consists of a brochure and a web site, www.boomer-itis.org that provides information on common injuries,injury treatment and sport-specific injury prevention tips.
"The goal is to help people in this age group educate themselves about the possible injuries and ways they can protect themselves," said Stanton.