Feel the Need for Speed? Better to Prevent the Pain of a Break or Sprain

MELROSE PARK, Ill. – Riley Purpur, 14, was doing a little night sledding with his friends at Berens Park in Elmhurst in mid-January when he broke his ankle.

“I had just completed a run and was on my sled at the bottom of the hill when my friend, who was next in line to go down, crashed into me,” he said. The York Community High School freshman, who has played competitive hockey for a decade and who snowboards and skis, hobbled to the side to assess the damage. “It didn’t really hurt at first and I didn’t think it was broken,” he said.

Broken bones from snowboarding and sledding top the list of common causes for a visit to the Emergency Department (ED) during the winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-quarter of all ED visits during this season are attributed to snowboarding accidents, and half of all cases were broken bones and sprains.

“Chicagoans embrace winter with gusto largely because of the great love for hockey, sledding and ice skating,” said Gottlieb Memorial Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Daryl O’Connor, who formerly cared for U.S. Olympic ski and winter sports athletes in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. O’Connor is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and now specializes in sports medicine in the Orthopaedic Department at Gottlieb, part of Loyola University Health System.

Deborah Purpur, Riley’s mother, kept an eye on her son’s ankle that night, and, after a recommendation by a friend the next morning, took her son to the ED for an X-ray. “After understanding that it was indeed broken and not just badly sprained, we went to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital Professional Building, where Dr. Jeffrey Meisles explained the break in the tibia and then casted Riley,” she said.

“I chose green, my favorite color,” said Riley, of the cast boot.

“Riley suffered a fracture in the tibia, which is the most common long-bone fracture and will likely heal without any problems,” said Meisles, an orthopedic specialist. “The tibia is a weight-bearing bone, and it is important that it heal correctly, so we will assess his progress in the next few weeks.”

“Some sports injuries can cause long-term problems. In some cases, even after the original injury heals, permanent or arthritic problems can occur,” said O’Connor, who works in partnership with Meisles at Gottlieb.

For Riley, the greatest pain hasn’t been the broken ankle, cast and crutches. “It really hurts to be sidelined from playing hockey during the season and to not be on the team,” he said. “I live for hockey, which is a much more dangerous sport, and I am really disappointed to have been injured by sledding.”

Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 28 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.