Washington: A new study has found that the risk of severe neck and head injuries is higher when it comes to extreme sports.
Extreme sports are gaining in popularity: skateboarding has surged 49 percent to 14 million US participants, and snowboarding now claims 7.2 million enthusiasts, up 51 percent since 1999.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers reviewed 2000-2011 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data for seven popular sports featured in the Winter and Summer X Games: surfing, mountain biking, motocross, skateboarding, snowboarding, snowmobiling and snow skiing.
Data from the NEISS database was collected for each individual sport, and type of head and neck injury (HNI): lacerations, contusions/abrasions, fractures, sprains (neck) and concussions (head).
The risk of concussion, neck fracture and skull fracture were calculated using extreme sport participation rates from the 2013 Outdoor Foundation Participation Report.
Of the 4 million injuries reported for extreme sport participants, 11.3 percent were HNI. Of all HNI reported in extreme sports, 83 percent were head injuries and 17 percent neck injuries. The data included all ages; however, teens and young adults accounted for the highest percentage of extreme sport injuries.
"The research provides a baseline to further study head and neck injuries among extreme sport participants," Vani J. Sabesan, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Western Michigan University School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, said.
"There's an understanding that these sports are growing in participation, and that they can result in significant injuries," the researcher said.
The study was presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).