Extreme sports have grown at an amazing rate over the past 15 years. In the United States, records will show that the two most popular extreme sports, skateboarding and snowboarding, have grown by an average of 50 percent since 1999. Skateboarding enthusiasts are estimated to number over 14 million while there are now 7.2 million people who go for snowboarding. While this may bode well for the sports, it is very unfortunate to note that injuries, particularly those involving the head and neck, have also been climbing at an alarming rate, this according to a recent study that was presented during the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Data from National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NESII)
With the objective of determining the association between extreme sports and injuries, a team of researchers carried out a research work using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NESII). The study covered the period from 2000 to 2011 and included seven popular extreme sports, which are: surfing, mountain biking, motocross, skateboarding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snow skiing. From these data, types of injuries were determined for every extreme sport.
Included in the study were participants from all ages and gender who suffered injuries due to extreme sports. It may be noted that most of these injuries were sustained by those who may be considered as teens and young adults.
Head and Neck Injuries (HNI) Account for 11.3% of Total Injuries
For the period covered in the study, over 4 million injuries were reported for the seven types of extreme sports. The most number of injuries were on the head and neck, accounting for 11.3 percent. This type of injury also registered the highest increase in the span of 10 years. These injuries were highest in skateboarding at 129,600 cases, snowboarding at 97,527 cases, and skiing with 83,313 injuries. It was reported that of the HNI, head injuries made up 83 percent while neck injuries was listed at 17 percent.
The most common type of head injuries were lacerations, contusions/abrasion, fractures, sprains, and concussions. Concussions were reported as the leading head and neck injury suffered by extremes sports enthusiasts and this was highest in snowboarding and skateboarding. Those into skateboarding had the highest risk for skull fractures and neck fractures were very common among surfers, who have risk that is 38 times that of skateboarders.
Actions Needed to Control Sports Injuries
Aside from being very significant, this study is very timely in view of the rapid growth of this type of sports. This can go a long way in coming up with ways to address the problem of injuries such as safer equipment, further research on injuries associated with extreme sports, and improvements in the medical care of those engaged in these sports. Extreme sports enthusiast may also be encouraged to learn more about these injuries and preventive measures by consulting with medical establishments specializing in sports medicine.