Snowboarding and skiing account for the second-highest rates of winter sports-related hospitalizations in the winter and spring months in Ontario, according to a Canadian Institute of Health Information study. Traumatic brain injury is a chief concern and the leading cause of snowboard-related injuries, disabilities and fatalities in North America.
While there is no sure-fire way to eliminate the risk for brain injury when hitting the slopes, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your child from sports-related head trauma. Below are five tips to helping prevent snowboarding-related brain injuries.
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1. Wear a Helmet
National safety advocates – including those at Parachute – stress the importance of wearing an approved safety helmet when snowboarding. This applies for riders of all ages and skill levels. While helmet use cannot guarantee safety, it can prevent head injury in up to 50 percent of accidents, reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States.
A helmet should be properly fitted and secured to protect a rider from injury. The helmet should feel snug against the head with room enough for one finger to fit under the chinstrap. A helmet should be replaced if it has been exposed to damage, such as in a fall or a drop.
2. Take Snowboarding Lessons
New and intermediate snowboarders may benefit from attending one or more lessons on how to navigate the slopes safely.
Instruction should include information such as:
- basic safety equipment requirements;
- equipment usage;
- how to embark and disembark from the chairlift;
- how to maneuver around obstacles on the slopes (such as people, equipment, trees, etc.);
- etiquette for the slopes (such as not sitting at the top of the hill and obstructing others’ paths, etc.); and
Snowboarding lessons may maximize a participant’s enjoyment of the activity because it empowers students to engage in the sport more confidently.
3. Refrain from Riding While Under the Influence
Alcohol and drug use – including marijuana – may increase your risk of being involved in a snowboarding accident by:
- slowing your reaction time;
- diminishing your coordination; and
- clouding your judgment (for instance, you may engage in uncharacteristically risky behavior or misjudge a course).
Play it safe and abstain from intoxicating substances when engaged in rigorous physical activity, such as snowboarding or skiing.
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4. Stick to the Course
Familiarize yourself with the resort’s or mountain’s groomed trails and learn to recognize what each trail marker indicates. This way, you can avoid hitting a trail that is beyond your skill or experience level. Do not venture onto ungroomed areas or trails that have been closed to the public. Even skilled snowboarders can suffer serious accidents and injury when attempting to navigate off-piste (or on an ungroomed area).
5. Do Not Take Unnecessary Risks
A helmet cannot offer 100 percent protection against injury. As such, you or your child should avoid attempting jumps or other advanced maneuvers without proper training and supervision.
If your child suffered a head injury while snowboarding in Ontario, call 1-800-JUSTICE® or fill out our case evaluation form to learn about potential options for financial recovery.