MD Talks about Preventing Concussions on the Slopes

Matthew Gammons, MD, a leading expert on snowboard and ski safety, and contributing author of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM)’s latest position statement, “Concussion in Sport,” recently issued four pieces of advice concerning the use of a helmet while skiing and snowboarding on the slopes this winter:

“1. Wear a helmet: Helmets can help prevent more serious head injuries such a skull fractures and moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries.

“2. Understand the limitation of your helmet: Helmets do not help prevent concussion so if you fall and experience the signs or symptoms of a concussion, make sure you seek medical attention. Additionally, the faster you go or higher you jump limits a helmet’s ability to provide protection.

“3. Ski and ride within your limits: Skiers and snowboarders tend to ski/ride faster and take more chances while wearing a helmet. This may increase their risk or severity of an injury.

“4. Know your mountain and the conditions: Being unfamiliar with a trail or park, coupled with variable terrain conditions, sometimes causes skiers and snowboarders to get hurt. Many injuries come at the crossover points of trails or on blinded drop-offs. Make sure you scout your trails and jumps prior to increasing your speed and risk.”

Dr. Gammons is a sports medicine physician at the Vermont Orthopaedic Clinic and the Killington Medical Clinic. He is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Associate Editor of Sports Health and member of the Board of Directors of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.

Dr. Gammons serves as a team physician for the United States Ski and Snowboard Teams in addition to several colleges, ski academies and high schools. He has a special interest in injury prevention and sports concussion. He is board-certified in family practice and sports medicine.

The AMSSM’s full position statement on “Concussions in Sport” is available at http://www.amssm.org/Content/pdf%20files/2012_ConcussionPositionStmt.pdf

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