Every two weeks, we gather some of the most interesting and intriguing studies from health researchers around the world. Here are the latest.
As record snowfalls extend this year’s skiing and snowboarding season, a Los Angeles children’s sports doctor is reminding kids and parents to be aware of injury risks. Children are more at risk than adults for injuries from skiing and snowboarding, especially for beginners, said Dr. Tracy Zaslow, director of the Children’s Orthopaedic Center Sports Concussion Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“Because of the high speeds that are traveled, it can go from a mild injury – bruises and sprains – to severe fractures that require surgery or head injuries that lead to bleeding in the brain,” says Dr. Zaslow, in a statement. She said novice skiers and snowboarders are less likely to have mastered the skills needed to avoid obstacles and fall down safely.
And it’s not just snow sports that cause injuries in winter, she noted. Especially in coastal states such as California, higher winter surf often leads to more injuries, from ankle and knee sprains to broken bones and head injuries.
Among her recommendations for kids:
Wear a snug-fitting helmet to significantly reduce the risk of skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.
Wear wrist guards to avoid fractures and sprains, a common injury among snowboarders who try to break their fall.
Check bindings for a child’s height and weight, being sure they’re not too loose or tight.
Use sunscreen, goggles and sunglasses to avoid eye and skin damage, especially from ultraviolet rays reflected off snow at high altitudes.
She also recommends that kids use winter months to cross-train in other sports, so they don’t overuse muscles. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, overuse injuries in children are on the rise. These occur when muscles and other parts of the body don’t have proper time to heal between use, causing young growing athletes to suffer injuries that could impair growth or lead to long-term health problems.
Regardless of season, concussions are a common problem among active kids. “People often think concussions are really exclusive to football and other high contact sports,” says Dr. Zaslow, “but we see them from all different sports, including surfing, skiing, snowboarding.”
One of the best prevention tips is knowing your surroundings, she said. On the slopes, that means knowing who is skiing behind and below you; staying away from out-of-bounds areas; and watching for obstacles such as rocks and trees. In the surf, recognize shallow areas and how big a wave you can handle. On playing fields, know when your body needs a rest by tracking such activities as the number of pitches thrown, balls kicked or laps swum.
Get moving, older adults, to avoid pain
For older adults, the more active you are, the lower your risk of developing chronic pain, according to a new study by researchers at Indiana University –Purdue University Indianapolis.
“This study provides the first objective evidence suggesting that physical activity behavior is related to the functioning of … pain modulatory systems in older adults,” the researchers said in a study published in the International Association for the Study of Pain journal.
In the study, a group of 51 healthy adults, aged 60 to 77, wore an activity monitor device for one week to measure their level of physical activity, then underwent two tests to gauge how pain is interpreted and perceived by the central nervous system.
In both tests, pain modulation was significantly related to the amount of daily physical activity. Older adults with more “moderate-to-vigorous” physical activity were better able to block pain perceptions. For conditions such as arthritis, back pain and fibromyalgia, that indicates they might be more able to resist sliding from acute into chronic pain syndromes with more exercise.