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1 December 2009 Injury and Illness Encountered in Shenandoah National Park
Joseph D. Forrester, Christopher P. Holstege
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Objective.—There have been no studies to date exploring the nature of injuries and illness experienced by individuals in a National Park in the southeastern United States. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of such illnesses and injuries to visitors in Shenandoah National Park.

Methods.—This study was a retrospective review of the case incident reports from Shenandoah National Park from 2003 to 2007. Data obtained included age, sex, time and date report was received, medical symptoms, trauma type, location of injury, mechanism of injury, level of care, time to patient, time to disposition, disposition type, location, and activity at time of event.

Results.—There were 159 total cases, corresponding to a reported incident rate of 2.7 persons reported injured or ill per 100 000 visitors to Shenandoah National Park. A total of 23.3% of all reported injuries occurred in persons less than 18 years of age. The most common reported adult injury was soft tissue injury, with the most common anatomical location being the distal lower extremity. The most common activity in which adults were involved at the time of the injury was hiking. Of the pediatric trauma cases, the most common mechanism of injury was a fall. Of the adult medical illnesses, the most common complaint was chest pain.

Conclusions.—The pattern of adult and pediatric trauma is consistent among several geographically different National Parks in the United States and represents an injury pattern that all wilderness/outdoor care providers need to be competent to treat. Among adult visitors, the most common medical complaint was chest pain, a complaint more prevalent at Shenandoah National Park compared to other parks. Knowing that trauma injury patterns are relatively similar to those of other parks but that medical illness is more locale specific can help health care providers tailor their resource allotment and health management protocols.

Joseph D. Forrester and Christopher P. Holstege "Injury and Illness Encountered in Shenandoah National Park," Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 20(4), 318-326, (1 December 2009).
Published: 1 December 2009

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