Thousands of avid athletes look forward to snow sports all summer long – then flock to states like Montana for skiing and snowboarding at the first snowfall. If you plan to hit the slopes this winter, do so with safety as your top priority. As you know, snow and ice can be anything but forgiving in a snow sports accident. Practicing a few simple safety tips could prevent serious and even fatal injuries while you enjoy the season this year.
Here are five typical snowboard and ski injuries to avoid this winter.
Many studies analyze the likelihood of head and brain injuries while skiing and snowboarding. One from 2015 found that over a 10-year period, patients reported a total of 97,527 head and neck injuries from snowboarding and 83,313 from skiing. These were two of the top sports for head and neck injuries. It is worthwhile to note that the rate of head and neck injuries increased over the course of the 10-year study, from 34,565 per year to 40,042. This could be due to a higher number of people interested in extreme sports.
Snowboarding had the highest rate of concussions of all extreme sports studied. About 30% of all concussions reported in extreme sports stemmed from snowboarding accidents. Skiing was second, with 25%. Protect your head and brain during snow sports by wearing a proper helmet. Stay within marked boundaries on the slopes and go with a friend. Only participate in these sports where medical professionals are close by in case of an accident. Get a medical evaluation after bumping your head, no matter how minor the incident may seem.
Another serious type of snowboard/skiing injury is a spine injury. The spinal cord can sustain damage while skiing or snowboarding if the rider makes an incorrect jump, tumbles, strikes a hard object, or runs into a tree. Injuries to the spine, back, and neck can be fatal. If the skier or snowboarder survives the spine injury, he or she may have long-lasting effects, such as chronic pain or loss of feeling and sensation below the point of injury (paralysis). Avoid spinal injuries by not attempting dangerous jumps or tricks that are outside your skill level.
Snowboarding and skiing falls can lead to a clavicle fracture or broken collarbone. This type of fracture is relatively common, especially in sports falls and accidents. Falling hard on an outstretched arm or the shoulder can fracture the clavicle, which is the bone that connects the shoulder and breastbone. A broken clavicle is a painful injury that can take months to fully heal. It’s important to learn how to fall safely and correctly (from a professional) if you want to ski or snowboard this winter.
The wrist is a commonly injured body part in snowboarding and skiing accidents. Beginners tend to stick out their hands to break their falls, often landing on the wrist. Sticking out the hand can injure the wrist, hand, or thumb. Fractures are common and can cause long-term pain and the inability to use the hand correctly. The force from a bad fall can move through the arm, impact the elbow, and even affect the shoulder. Complicated wrist fractures can result in long-term disabilities.
You strap your lower extremities into the equipment when skiing or snowboarding, increasing the risk of injuries to the leg, thigh, knees, and ankles. Children have a higher risk of lower extremity fractures than adults, often from colliding with stationary objects. Use knee braces and other safety equipment to help prevent these types of injuries while skiing or snowboarding. Use the proper footwear to help protect the foot and ankle from injury in an accident.