Spinning on Ice May Cause Concussions in Figure Skaters

Who knew that when Russia’s figure skating phenom Julia Lipnitskaia, or any other elite skater, launches into a high-velocity spin that they could be injuring their brain?

That was the suggestion recently of Dr. David Wang, a sports medicine expert with the Elite Sports Medicine division of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, in an article that appeared on the NBC Connecticut Website

“I can’t go so far as to say it’s exactly a concussion, but it acts an awful lot like a concussion,” Dr. Wang said.

Wang recently began researching the area in an effort “to prove whether or not this was safe. … I wanted to see where the problems are, and as with baseball pitchers having a pitch count for how many times they can throw, is there a limit to how much someone can be spinning before they’re left with symptoms that don’t go away.”

The article went on to suggest that Dr. Wang has found some spins may be more dangerous than others, such as the layback spin, in which the skater’s head is thrust away from the axis of the body. This subjects the head to greater G forces, according to the article.

“When you go into the spin, you can imagine it’s like a centrifuge,” he said. “You’re pushing the blood into your head. That’s what usually pops the blood vessels in the eyes and forces the blood going into the head, but when you come out of that spin the blood is drawn right back out of the head and it’s a negative G. That’s when someone falls or faints.”

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