Olympics / Winter Olympics / Winter Sports

The dangers of Olympic sledding

I covered a NYT piece on the need for speed in winter sliding sports and the tracks made to protect them and Vox made a video about a specific reason why the Olympic sliding sports (bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge) are so dangerous: sled head.

[…] But there is growing research that shows it might be the act of sledding itself that is the main driver of brain injury. With every run, athletes are exposed to immense force and vibration, causing micro-concussions that can add up to major damage. Those concussions are mild enough that they can go undiagnosed. But among sledding athletes, the symptoms that indicate a micro-concussion — headaches, dizziness, etc. — are so common they have a special nickname: “sled head.”

Excerpt from accompanying Vox article

Concussions are present in some many high profile sports such as American football, soccer, rugby, and ice hockey but they’re acute in sliding sports due to the speed factor. Athletes can reach speeds of 90mph (~145km/h) and crashes are common so the risk-reward element of these sports is something the athletes consider when it comes to the longevity of their careers and, more importantly, their lives.

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