Top Five Winter Sports Injuries: What You Can Do

The latest feature on the Sports Injury Handbooks website is about the top five winter sports injuries, and what you can do about them. Here’s an excerpt:

There you are bombing down a snowy hill or zooming across the ice when BOOM, you hit something, hard. The next thing you know, you’re being carried off on a stretcher. Welcome to the wonderful world of winter sports injuries.

Broken bones due to snowboarding and sledding top the list of common causes for visits to the emergency room (ER) during the winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control, snowboarding accounts for one quarter of all ER visits, with half of all cases due to broken bones and sprains.

The top five injury-producing winter sports are sledding, hockey, ice skating, snowboarding, and skiing, says Daryl O’Connor, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Here’s his take on the injuries from these sports, and what you can do to prevent them:

– Sledding. More than 700,000 injuries are reported each year in the US due to sledding, says Dr. O’Connor, and more than 30% are head injuries caused by collisions. What You Can Do: Use a sled with some steering capability. If possible, remove any objects on the hill. Never go down a slope head first; using a helmet makes sense.

– Hockey. Lacerations, neck, shoulder, and knee injuries are the most common in hockey. Many of these injuries are caused by contact with another player, the ice, a puck, or a skate blade. What You Can Do: First and foremost, wear a helmet with a face mask. Use a mouthpiece. Make sure the playing surface, the boards, and the goals are in good condition.

– Ice Skating. Injuries to the wrist and the head and neck are most common, often caused by falls. What You Can Do: Wearing a helmet and using wrist guards may decrease the risks of injury. Make sure your skates are sharp and fit properly.

– Snowboarding. Wrist and elbow injuries are caused by falls on outstretched hands, and head injuries from hitting the snow, trees, or objects on the slopes. What You Can Do: Wear a helmet and use gloves with built-in wrist guards. Inspect your equipment to make sure it fits properly and bindings are adjusted properly.

– Skiing. Knees can become injured due to the extreme twisting force propelled by skis. Head, neck, and shoulder injuries can result from falls. What You Can Do: Wearing a helmet cuts your chances of a head injury in half. Check your equipment to ensure it’s in good repair. Follow all posted warning signs and don’t ski out of bounds.

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