Dangers of Snow Sports:
Injuries While Skiing or Snowboarding
Injuries from snow sports have become more prevalent over the years. These injuries, however, can be prevented, and it is important to pay attention and take caution to reduce your risk of injury.
Winter brings snow, fun in the snow, and injuries in the snow. Every chilly season, I see patients who suffer from preventable injuries as a result of their winter escapades. At our clinic, we probably see five to seven patients a week who have been hurt participating in these sports.
The biggest difference between injuries sustained during skiing and snowboarding is the location of the injuries. Skiers tend to injure lower extremities, especially the knees and lower legs, which can get tangled up during a fall. Snowboarders, on the other hand, tend to injure their upper extremities.
Injury to a small wrist bone is of particular concern; it is especially prone to breakage if one falls with an outstretched arm. Not only does it take a lot of time to heal, but also, injury to this bone can lead to a fracture traveling all the way up to the elbow.
Speaking of elbows, elbow dislocations are also common injuries seen at our clinic. Other injuries include shoulder strains, dislocations, and separations.
A Recent Study
The American Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a 10-year study focusing on snowboarding injuries, and here are some of the interesting results produced.
- Most of the injured people were of 30 years of age or younger.
- 74 percent of injuries occurred in men and 26 percent in women.
- Nearly half of the injuries were to upper extremities, and nearly half of those were fractures.
- The most common site of injury was the wrist.
- Falling was the predominant mechanism of upper-extremity injuries.
- Snowboarders who wore protective wrist guards were half as likely to sustain wrist injuries as those who did not wear them.
Another study published in the Journal showed that snowboarders suffer more injuries than skiers. For any given amount of terrain traveled, a snowboarder is three to four times more likely to end up with injuries requiring treatment at a hospital or clinic.
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Reducing Your Risk
Fortunately, you can take some steps to reduce your risk of injury. Here are some precautions you should take before attempting these dangerous snow sports.
- Wear protective wrist guards and a helmet.
- Take lessons, and learn how to fall correctly.
- Know your limits. If you get tired, take a break. Don't start jumping or performing complex tricks until you're experienced and have had proper instruction.
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