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Don't Let Horse Play Throw You
Orthopaedic Surgeons Provide Tips to Prevent Horseback Riding Injuries
Horseback riding is a great way to
exercise the entire body. Interaction between horse and rider offers
documented therapeutic benefits -- both mentally and physically -- to the
rider. However, if appropriate measures are not taken, this sport can pose
serious injury threats to the estimated 30 million Americans who ride horses
each year. Because there is some unpredictability with a horse, as with any
animal, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends riders
of all ages and skill levels use common sense and heed proper safety
precautions when horseback riding.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2004 more
than 205,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics,
ambulatory surgery centers and hospital emergency rooms for horseback
riding-related injuries. The most frequent injuries sustained occur in the
upper extremity, often resulting in bruises, strains, sprains and fractures of
the wrist, shoulder and elbow. The most serious injuries can involve damage
to the spine and head.
"While experience may give riders a sense of security, even the most
seasoned equestrians can be injured," said Maureen A. Finnegan, MD,
orthopaedic surgeon and member of the AAOS. "Wearing an approved safety
helmet, proper riding gear and using well-maintained equipment goes
hand-in-hand with common-sense riding and supervision for inexperienced
AAOS offers the following tips to prevent horseback riding injuries:
-- Ensure that all riders always wear equestrian helmets that meet proper
-- It is important for novice riders to take lessons from experienced
instructors. Always supervise young horseback riders, both on and off
-- Choose a horse based on its temperament. Pick more experienced horses
for novice riders, as they are quieter and more predictable.
-- Select a horse to match the rider's age, skill, experience and size.
-- Inspect all riding equipment to ensure that it is free of damage and
-- Riders should wear properly-fitted, sturdy leather boots with a
minimal heel. Clothing should be comfortable and not too loose.
-- Children and novice riders should consider using safety stirrups that
break away in the event of a fall.
-- Amateur riders should ride on open, flat terrain and should not
attempt jumps or stunts unsupervised.
-- If riders feel themselves falling, try to roll to the side, away from
the horse, upon ground impact.
-- Horses survive in nature by fleeing from sudden noises or movements.
Riders must stay alert to things that might startle the horse and be
prepared to respond.
-- Do not ride a horse when tired, medicated or under the influence of
Internet users can find additional safety tips and injury prevention
information in the Prevent Injuries America!(R) Program section of the
Academy's web site, http://www.aaos.org or http://www.orthoinfo.org or call
the Academy's Public Service line at 800-824-BONES.
An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician with extensive training in the
diagnosis and treatment of non-surgical as well as surgical treatment of the
musculoskeletal system including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles
With 28,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
( http://www.aaos.org ) or ( http://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
( http://www.usbjd.org ), the global initiative in the years 2002-2011 to
raise awareness of musculoskeletal health to stimulate research and improve
people's quality of life. President Bush has declared the years 2002-2011
National Bone and Joint Decade in support of these objectives. The AAOS will
celebrate its 75th Anniversary at our 2008 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
Visit ( http://www.aaos.org/75years ) and be a part of our history!