Beware of winter sports?!


This is the season and Minnesota is the place for shredding powder, sledding slopes and generally enjoying the cold and snow! 

Think of all the ski clubs and community hills packed on the weekends. And all of us parents trying to get our kids off devices and outside despite our winter weather.

This is why new research just out is particularly concerning for Twin Cities parents.

According to the new study out of the University of Massachusetts’s Medical School, grade-schoolers had almost three times the odds of having a serious skull or facial fracture while skiing or snowboarding, compared to older children.

And older kids had more than twice the risk of younger kids of having an injury to their abdominal area.

The study looked at 845 kids' inpatient hospital admissions related to snow sports injuries from sports including skiing, snowboarding, sledding and other winter outdoor activities.

More than half of the kids admitted to the hospital needed major surgery. Injuries included leg and arm fractures, spleen injuries and head injuries, including skull fracture. The study author points out that young children have more fragile and thinner skulls and facial bones, so even if they're not going as fast as older kids, they're still at risk of injury.

Here in Minnesota, you can’t keep kids away from winter sports, but parents can keep a few things in mind:

• Invest in a good helmet. This is not the time to shop on a budget.

• Wear that helmet. Many of us grew up skiing/snowboarding/sledding without them. Today, we know better, especially since the risk of head injuries is so high with winter sports.

• Take formal lessons.

• Help your child master skiing or snowboarding in areas without severe drops, trees, crowds of other skiers or any other obstacles that pose a risk to kids just trying to learn how to control their skis.

• Stick with your kids when they are still learning and give them a clear understanding of the symbols and colors on the hills mean. You don’t want a beginner trying to conquer a double black diamond run.

This is the season to enjoy winter sports. Be sure you’re taking the necessary measures to make sure your children do so safely.


Dr. Carolyn McClain, Medical Director of The Urgency Room

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