Snowboarding injuries are more common among novice boarders than professionals. Some reasons are improper balance, conditioning and not wearing proper gear. Snowboarding injuries may run the gamut from contusions, concussions, fractures to spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries.
This is a bruise, a common injury with snowboarding. It may occur as a result of a bump or fall. With ice application, rest and anti-inflammatory medications where required, a contusion should heal in few days. Physiotherapy for more serious contusions (bruising) is very helpful in helping the body break down the inflammation thus promoting faster healing rates and less long term internal scarring.
These may be mild or severe enough and may occur from a fall or direct blow to the head. A concussion occurs when the brain moves in the skull as a result of the trauma. Someone who sustains a mild concussion while snowboarding may appear disoriented, confused and may suffer memory loss. In severe cases, there may be headaches, stiff neck, bleeding from the nose or ears, dizziness, blurred vision and even loss of consciousness. Any of these signs require immediate medical attention. Even the mildest cases should be reported as more severe effects could be felt later. Any dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, excessive sleepiness, loss of appetite, nausea or pins and needles and numbness experienced within a few days of a fall or collision may be the result of a concussion and need to be examined immediately by a health professional.
Wrist fractures are among the most common snowboarding injuries. A wrist fracture will require medical attention which may include casting to allow the bone to heal. The bone may have to be reset through either closed or open reduction by a surgeon. Closed reduction is done without an incision where as an open reduction requires surgery. Physiotherapy will be needed to restore range of motion and strength after the cast is removed. Wrist fractures can sometimes be avoided by wearing the appropriate safety gear.
Rotator cuff injuries
This type of injury affects the rotator cuff muscles and tendons that help give the shoulder stability and strength. When this happens, shoulder range of motion and function are compromised. Rest, icing and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful; however physiotherapy is needed to restore range of motion and strength to the shoulder. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be needed, followed by a physiotherapy rehabilitation programme.
Spinal cord injuries
This is one of the more severe types of snowboarding injuries and can result from a fall or direct trauma to the spinal cord. Effects can be mild or severe depending on the level of the injury and may range from temporary and minimal loss of function in one limb to permanent paralysis in all four limbs.
Snowboarding injuries can be prevented by first working on your balance, flexibility and conditioning for the sport and having lessons with a qualified instructor before hitting the slopes alone. You can be taught how to fall safely and correct techniques in deceleration and changing direction. Someone who is a good skier will not necessarily be a naturally good snowboarder. Also, be careful to wear the appropriate safety equipment to protect yourself while snowboarding and stick to safe runs in favourable weather conditions.
As avid snowboarders, Breffni O'Mahony and Dimitri Naef are great physiotherapists to see for snowboarding related injuries!
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