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Winter Sport Injuries on the Rise Among Baby Boomers

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – What happens when there’s a medical emergency on the mountain?  The folks at Intermountain Healthcare and Intermountain Medical Center say they’re prepared for anything.
We continue our 5 part series with emergency and trauma doctors at the ready.

Dr. Ellen Guthrie conducts a mock drill of a heart attack patient at the Intermountain Healthcare clinic.

It’s one of the many situations the people at the Snowbird Clinic are prepared for.
The team is also prepared to do all of these lifesaving measures on the mountain.
The patient then heads to Intermountain Medical Center.

Brad Morris is a Physician Assistant at the Intermountain Medical Center’s Trauma Center. He says most winter sport injuries are from skiing and snowboarding, but occasionally they’ll see patients who were sledding, snowmobiling or even playing hockey.

Morris, “Just in the last month, we’ve admitted approximately just under 50 patients of winter sports injuries. Since the 2002 Winter Olympics, the State of Utah started as a winter sports destination and grew into a worldwide winter sports destination. The sheer numbers of people who are on the mountain, back country doing winter sports has grown.”

Tyler O’Rourke’s injuries were so severe he was transported directly to the hospital in Murray and immediately taken into surgery.
He had a broken back, ribs, injured spleen, dislocated wrist and many other injuries.
“I was a perfectly healthy, normal guy snowboarding then had it all taken away. I think about it. I just can’t believe it happened to me.”
 
Tyler is thankful he was wearing a helmet. 
 
Dr. Morris, “30% of the patients who are admitted for ski and snowboard injuries have head injuries.”
Dr. Ellen Guthrie, Intermountain Healthcare, “not only does it keep your head warm, it keeps it safe. The people who love you want to keep your brain safe.”
 
Dr. Morris says a trend they’re seeing in the emergency room is a huge increase of injuries among the elderly. He says the baby boomers who are now 70-80 years old are skiing. Dr. Morris sees a lot of broken ribs.
He adds, it’s not that they’re incapable of skiing but their bones break a little easier when they fall.

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