If you have lived in Texas for any amount of time, it is likely you have witnessed the annual Mountain Migration (an unofficial name). Hordes of eager Texans fill the skies and roads as they descend upon the Rocky Mountains for the annual ski & snowboard season—Colorado being a favorite destination. When I was growing up, it was just “ski” season, but if you were born after 1980, then chances are it’s “board” season to you or your children.

One “board” season in 2004, a requirement of my fellowship training, I spent several weeks in the medical tent at the main base of Keystone/A-Basin ski slopes. The purpose was to complete extensive hands-on training in altitude sickness, general skiing/snowboarding injuries (ACL’s, wrist & ankle fractures, etc.), and first aid. I went to the mountains in Colorado expecting to encounter various fractures and ACL tears, but the three most serious injuries were brain bleeds (intracranial hemorrhaging) from snowboarding accidents. One of the patients died as a result of the injuries.

Inherently, engaging activities like snow skiing and snowboarding always carry some degree of risk of bodily harm or injury. HELMETS should be a standard issue to boarders as are their boards - no exceptions. Ever. The speed and angle at which snowboarders often impact the snow/ice during a crash creates a perfect scenario for concussions and brain bleeds. HELMETS are key to PREVENTION of such head injuries during snowboarding and this needs to be taken extremely seriously.

Olympic snowboarder, Sarka Pancochova, is a very recent example of the dangers associated with snowboarding. In February 2014, she fell coming down from a jump and violently hit her head on the snow. So hard, in fact, her helmet BROKE! Fortunately for Sarka, she was able to walk away from a situation which could have been much worse. Not only did she have a helmet on, but Sarka was also using the Unequal Solo—a head padding worn inside the helmet, specifically to reduce the severity of head injuries. I recommend Unequal products for many of my athletes, especially in high contact sports such as football, lacrosse, soccer, and hockey,

My goal here is to raise your awareness of the dangers associated to head injuries in snowboarding and skiing, and to encourage a conversation about PREVENTING head injuries through the use of HELMETS. Even through best efforts, injuries will still happen and Noble Pain and Sports Medicine will be just as diligent with treating head injuries as we are about preventing them! One way we do this is by performing the SphenoCath® procedure, which can be used to treat head pain from migraines to post-concussion pain.

I love to ski, and I have children who enjoy snow sports as well. So when I say I care for my family the same way I care for my patients, I absolutely mean it. They are taught to use a helmet and to be aware of the snow/ice conditions, and they absolutely have their Unequal padding fitted for the upcoming snow season! Please be careful out on the slopes this season and let Noble Pain and Sports Medicine keep you moving!

Trading your pain for action with cutting-edge healthcare,
Dr. Chad Stephens, D.O.

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