The preparticipation sports physical examination and wilderness athletes

Arthur A Islas, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Every fifth unintentional injury treated at a healthcare facility in industrialized nations is associated with sports or physical exercise. Though the benefits of exercise on health status are well documented and, for most individuals, far outweigh the risks, participation in sports and exercise programs does carry a risk of injury, illness, or even death. In an effort to decrease these risks most institutions in the United States, and in the industrialized world, require a pre-participation physical examination for all athletes competing in organized or scholastic sports or exercise programs. Over the last ten years the popularity of outdoor or wilderness sports has increased enormously. Traditional outdoor sports such as skiing and hiking are more popular than ever and sports that did not exist 10 to 15 years ago, such as adventure racing or mountain biking, are now multimillion dollar enterprises. This genre of sport appeals to a broad spectrum of individuals and combines the traditional risks of physical activity and exertion with the remoteness and exposure associated with wilderness environments. Wilderness athletes include people of all ages and of both genders. The main causes of morbidity are musculoskeletal injuries and gastrointestinal illnesses; the main causes of mortality are falls and cardiac events. By placing these causes in a Haddon Matrix, preventative strategies have been found and recommendations made specifically for the preparticipation physical examination, which include education about the causes of morbidity and mortality in wilderness athletes, instruction about preventing and treating these injuries and illnesses, and screening of athletes at risk for cardiovascular accidents. Through these measures the risk of injuries, illnesses and deaths in wilderness athletes can be decreased through out the world.

Subject Area

Sports medicine|Health education

Recommended Citation

Islas, Arthur A, "The preparticipation sports physical examination and wilderness athletes" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1445481.