Every year Americans venture into wilderness areas in growing numbers and with greater frequency. The US Forest Service in 1991 reported 12.8 million visitor days to its areas designated as wilderness. An estimated 18.2 million snow skiers, 2.5 million scuba divers, 70 million swimmers, 10.8 million water skiers, 30 000 hang gliders, and 46 million fishing enthusiasts participate in their respective sports1 each year in the United States, often in areas defined as wilderness.
These sports can be hazardous. Six thousand people die annually while engaged in sports and recreation.2 Fishing, a relatively benign activity, causes 66 000 injuries per year.1 Thoreau wrote, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." But, for physicians, activities in the great outdoors cause a cascade of unusual medical problems.
The Journal of Wilderness Medicine has found a previously unrecognized, unique niche in the medical literature. The varied range of topics
Eldredge JD, Hauswald M. Journal of Wilderness Medicine. JAMA. 1992;268(13):1780. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490130168055