AANS Offers Winter Sports Safety Tips

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), every year, thousands of adults and children are treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms for head and neck injuries related to winter sports. As a result, many people are left with permanent health problems, are paralyzed, or lose their lives.

Injuries severe enough to cause head injury or other trauma often also cause neck fracture or spinal cord injury. Winter sports contribute to a greater number of head injuries than neck injuries, but both head and neck injuries can be devastating. While severe head injuries can result in a host of disabling cognitive and physical health problems, severe neck injuries or spinal cord injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis. The most severe of these injuries can tragically end in death.

According to AANS, many head and neck injuries can be avoided by following these simple safety precautions:

  • Buy and use helmets or protective head gear approved by the ASTM for specific sports 100 percent of the time.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the sport.
  • Do not participate in sports when you are ill, very tired, or have consumed alcohol.
  • Do not participate in outdoor sports when weather conditions pose a serious hazard.
  • Drive snowmobiles slowly and only on marked trails.
  • Ice skate only in areas designated for skating, and be sure to check the ice for cracks and debris.
  • Use only sleds that can be steered, and never go down a slope head first.
  • Follow all posted signs and warnings on ski slopes, sledding hills and ice skating rinks.

AANS offers in-depth information on sports-related injuries on its public Web site at www.neurosurgerytoday.org/what/patient_e/sports.asp and www.neurosurgerytoday.org/what/patient_e/sports_neck_injury.asp.

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