Musculoskeletal and Head Injuries in a Canadian Summer Camp: A Three-Year Surveillance Study

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INTRODUCTION: Residential summer camps are popular among Canadian families. Campers are exposed to new, unfamiliar environments and engage in activities that may pose increased risk of injury. This study identifies the occurrence and management of musculoskeletal and head injuries at a Canadian residential summer camp.

METHODS: This study was a three-year prospective observational cohort study, at a six-week Canadian residential summer camp. There were 1,388 residents, consisting of 51,546 camp days (CD). Injury data were collected by residential summer camp staff and confirmed by onsite medical professionals prior to being recorded in a secure database. Injuries were included if it was a musculoskeletal or head injury that occurred while engaged in a camp activity on or offsite, that necessitated medical attention, and that required removal or restriction from their normal camp routine for a minimum of 4 hours.

RESULTS: There were 154 injuries, resulting in an incidence of 2.99 injuries per 1000 CD. Injuries were reported during scheduled activities (1.46/1000 CD) and free time (1.20/1000 CD). Sports was the most common activity during which injury occurred in all age groups (1.07/1000 CD), where males were injured twice as often as females. 65% of injuries occurred while under staff supervision. The lower extremity was the most affected body part (1.59/1000 CD). Sprains and strains accounted for 1.69 injuries/1000 CD. 83% of injuries were classified as significant and 89% of injuries were treated on-site. Over-the-counter analgesics were provided in 62% of senior camper injuries and 46% of junior camper and staff injuries.

CONCLUSION: Most injuries in the residential camp setting are mild. Ensuring appropriate non-pharmacologic measures in addition to adequate analgesia may help shorten return to play.

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