April 1997 Bulletin

Academy okays new positions

Two new position statements on sledding safety and on the need for daily physical activity were approved by the Board of Directors in February.

The position statement on sledding safety says that every year, thousands of youths and adults are injured sledding down hills in city parks, streets and resort areas. In 1995, hospital emergency rooms treated 54,727 injuries related to sleds, toboggans, and inflated or plastic tubes and disks used in sledding, according to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The medical, legal and insurance costs were $365 million. Half of all emergency visits were for injuries to arms and legs; 17 percent, spine; 15 percent, head; and 11 percent facial injuries.

The Academy is recommending several safety guidelines to improve sledding safety which includes sledding only in designated areas free of fixed objects such as trees, posts and fences. The Academy also recommends supervision of children by their parents or adults.

The position statement on the need for daily physical activity, which is co-endorsed by the American Geriatrics Society, observes that medical research has proven that people can substantially improve their health and quality of life with moderate physical activity. However, 25 percent of American adults report they don't engage in any physical activity in their leisure time and 60 percent don't engage in vigorous activity. This is a problem of national concern because of the aging population and evidence that adults exercise less as they get older. By the year 2030, one in five people will be 65 or older and 12 percent of the elderly will be 85 or older.

Some people may not exercise because they don't like vigorous activity, don't have the time or are worried that it will aggravate a medical condition. However, researchers have found that moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day will provide significant health benefits. Even people with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, can improve their health and quality of life with regular, moderate amounts of physical activity.

The Academy and the American Geriatrics Society recommend that adults engage in moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day on a regular basis.

All Academy positon statements are available in the Library section of Academy's home page http://www.aaos.org.

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