Head, neck injury risk associated with extreme sports

Extreme sports are a significant risk factor for head and neck injuries, according to a study presented at the 2014 American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Using the 2000-2011 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), researchers collected data for seven sports, including surfing, mountain biking, motocross, skateboarding, snowboarding, snowmobiling and snow skiing.

Of 4 million injuries reported, 11.3% were head and neck injury (HNI); of these, 83% were head injuries, with concussion being the most common extreme sport-related HNI. Skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing were linked to the highest incidence of HNI, and teens and young adults accounted for the highest percentage of injuries.

Extreme sports-related HNI increased from 2000 to 2010, and Vani J. Sabesan, MD, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Western Michigan University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said these sports are gaining popularity.

“There’s an understanding that these sports are growing in participation, and that they can result in significant injuries,” she stated in a press release.

AAOS recommends helmet use for sports and Sabesan said the findings provide an opportunity for physicians to advocate for safer equipment, improved on-site medical care and more research regarding extreme sport injuries.

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