Emergency Care For You

How To Prevent Snowboarding Injuries

Snowboarding, says the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), is one of the 10 sport and recreational activities causing children injuries severe enough to merit emergency medical attention.

"Ski injury experts agree that snowboarding carries a slightly higher risk of injury than traditional downhill skiing," said Dr. Bruce Bonanno, an emergency physician and member of the ACEP. "Research indicates that a snowboarder is likely to injure some area of the body every 250 days they spend snowboarding."

ACEP offers these tips to prevent common snowboarding injuries.

Wrist Fractures and/or Sprains: Falls are the most common cause of wrist fractures and sprains. These injuries are caused when snowboarders lose their balance or catch an edge and attempt to break the fall with their hands. Tip: Wear wrist guards.

Ankle Sprains and Fractures: Both ankle sprains and ankle fractures are more common in snowboarders than in skiers, mainly due to equipment differences. Tip: Hard-shell, rather than soft-shell boots, may be more likely to protect against ankle sprains.

Spinal Cord Injuries: Snowboarding is considered an "extreme sport" and enthusiasts often push the limits of their ability doing tricks on half pipes and jumps. Although still relatively rare, the incidence of serious spinal injuries is on the increase. Tip: Wear a helmet and take lessons from a qualified instructor. Avoid attempting stunts without proper instruction, practice and protection.

Head Injuries: While head injuries account for only a small number of total injuries among skiers and snowboarders, they are the number one cause of death and serious injury for people engaged in these sports.

"Most snowboarders don't take professional lessons, but learn from friends or they are self- taught. This can lead to bad habits that can lead to injury," said Dr. Bonanno. "Play it safe and pay for a few lessons before hitting the slope. A good instructor will also explain to you the importance of safety equipment and how to prevent common injuries."