ROSEMONTAs the weather gets warmer, more cyclists will hit the road for recreation, transportation and exercise. In 2002, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 635,000 bicycle injuries in children from 5 to 14 years old were treated in hospitals, doctors offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers and emergency rooms.
Most bicycling accidents occur close to home, and are the result of falls, explained Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and first vice president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
To promote a safer season, orthopaedic surgeons urge cyclists to take extra caution to prevent injury. While wearing helmets remains the most proven method of reducing brain injuries in bicycle accidents, these accidents can also result in serious musculoskeletal injuries, broken bones, sprains and strains to the rider. There are a number of factors that contribute to bicycle accidents, which include inattention to obstacles in the bicycle path, excessive speed, maneuvering to avoid vehicles or pedestrians and not wearing the proper safety equipment.
It is important to always wear a helmet to help prevent head injuries and to make sure every other possible precaution is taken to prevent a fall that may cause bodily injury, Dr. Weinstein added.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following bicycle safety tips:
Always wear a helmet. Make sure it fits snugly and does not obstruct your vision.
Make certain the bicycle is the proper size for the rider.
Make sure your bicycle is properly adjusted and well maintained. Replace broken or missing parts.
Wear bright fluorescent colors and avoid biking at night. If you have to ride your bike at night, make sure you have a working headlight visible for 500 feet and rear reflectors.
Stay alert and watch for obstacles in your pathway.
Ride with traffic and be aware of traffic around you. Obey traffic laws.
Dont ride double or attempt stunts.
Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear.
Dress for the weather.
Internet users can find additional safety tips and injury prevention information on cycling and more, in the Prevent Injuries America!* section of the Academys Web site, www.aaos.org or www.orthoinfo.org, or call the Academys Public Service line at 800-824-BONES.
An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician with extensive training in the diagnosis and nonsurgical as well as surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.
With more than 27,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org) or (www.orthoinfo.org), is a not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons, allied health professionals and the public. An advocate for improved patient care, the Academy is participating in the Bone and Joint Decade (www.usbjd.org), the global initiative in the years 2002-2011 to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health to stimulate research and improve peoples quality of life. President Bush has declared the years 2002-2011 National Bone and Joint Decade in support of these objectives.