Entries in Accident (4)


Head Injuries Common in Skiing Accidents

JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- The death of freestyle skier Sarah Burke has forced the safety of extreme sports into the spotlight.

Burke, 29, died Thursday, nine days after crashing on a half-pipe course in Utah. The Winter X Games champion and 2005 half-pipe world gold medalist suffered "severe irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest," according to a statement from her publicist.

Competitive skiers and snowboarders are no strangers to injuries ranging from serious to fatal. In 2001, American gold-medal-winning skier Bill Johnson experienced a near-fatal crash that put him in a coma during an attempt to qualify for the 2002 Winter Games. More recently, at the 2006 Turin Olympics, skier Lindsey Vonn crashed during a training run. The accident ended her metal hopes but she was able to walk away with only a hip injury.

Kevin Pearce said snowboarding gave him the ride of a lifetime until an accident on a Utah half- pipe in 2009 left him with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). After battling through years of rehabilitation, Pearce regained his ability to talk, walk, and eat. In December, he hit the slopes for the first time since the accident.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 1.7 million Americans experience a TBI every year. Experts say sports-related injuries are the second leading cause, and the extreme nature of skiing and snowboarding makes these sports particularly hazardous.

"For any sport that involves inverting yourself or increases the chance you might lose your balance, there's always a risk of head injuries," said Dr. Alan Hoffer, a neurological surgeon at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. "That's probably more true for a sport like hers, but we certainly see head injuries -- even severe head injuries -- in what might be considered safer sports like football and hockey. Flipping in the air increases your risk but in other sports you can get knocked down."

"It's certainly a real tragedy when things like this happen."

In Burke's case, Hoffer said, it is difficult to tell exactly how her injury led to her death. Initial reports suggest that Burke ruptured a vertebral artery, a blood vessel that supplies the brain, but Hoffer said the additional head trauma may have been the culprit.

While Burke was wearing a helmet at the time of her accident, Hoffer said that even this type of head protection cannot prevent all injuries to the brain.

"The goal of helmets and any protective equipment in general is to buffer the effects of an impact," he said. "Certainly, as we see in other sports such as football, they're not able to prevent all injuries."

Hoffer said that if there is anything that casual skiiers can learn from this tragedy, it is to approach the slopes with caution -- and to know how to react quickly to a situation in which a friend or loved one may have sustained a TBI.

"Even casual skiers do have some risk," he said. "You can never tell when you're going to catch an edge and go flying head over heel. People run into lift poles or jumps and come down badly. Know your limitations. Don't go on a run that's too difficult. And make sure you're somewhere that if you do need help, you can get it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Freak Accident: Man Impaled by Garden Shears…And Lives!

University Medical Center of Tucson, Arizona(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- “It was excruciating. I can’t tell you how much it hurt.”

That’s what 86-year old Leroy Luetscher of Green Valley, Ariz., had to say about a grisly gardening injury that very easily could have resulted in blindness, brain damage or worse, according to a report from ABC News Tucson affiliate KGUN9.

Last month, Luetscher was trimming plants in his garden when he dropped his pruning shears, which stuck blade-first into the soil, handles pointing upward. Reaching down to pick them up, he lost his balance, and fell face-first on the handle, sending it right through his eye socket and lodging it in his head.

At first, Luetscher told reporters in a press conference Tuesday, he was not sure what had happened. He reached up to his face and felt something unusual.

“I sort of pulled on it just a little, it seemed real solid so I just left it alone and realized that it was the clipper.”

He was rushed to Tucson’s university medical center, to the same surgeons who saved the life of Gabrielle Giffords. Luetscher’s surgeon had never seen anything like this -- and he said that Luetscher was lucky that the handle of the shears spared his eyeball, his brain, and his essential arteries.

Today, Luetscher is in much better shape. But he said that after this mishap, his gardening days are over.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Children Fare Better in Car Crashes if Grandparents Drive

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Children may be safer riding alongside their grandparents than with their parents, according to a new study published Monday in Pediatrics.

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that a child's risk of injury from a car crash was significantly lower when their grandparents were behind the wheel.

The study is based on results of an examination of State Farm Insurance claims for car crashes in 15 states between 2003 and 2007. Instead of examining which age group had more crashes, the researchers examined the number of reported injuries and found 1.05 percent of kids were injured riding with their parents compared to 0.70 percent of children riding with grandparents.  That’s a 33 percent lower risk.

The gap for injuries increased to 50 percent when researchers took into account other factors that could affect injuries, including older-model vehicles and not using child-restraining car seats.

As for why the rate of injuries is lower, researchers theorize that perhaps grandparents are more nervous about driving with their grandkids, and as a result, are more cautious when they're behind the wheel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Survives Freak Accident That Inflated Him Like Balloon

Thinkstock/Getty Images(WHAKATANE, New Zealand) -- A New Zealand truck driver survived a freak accident with an air tank that inflated him like a balloon to twice his normal size.

On Saturday, Steven McCormack, 48, ended up in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Whakatane, a town on the North Island's east coast. As McCormack was standing on the rigging between his truck and trailer while working at Waiotahi Contractors, he slipped and fell onto a brass valve that was connecting the truck's brakes to the compressed air supply. The nozzle pierced his left buttock and air rushed into his body at 100 pounds per square inch.

"In a matter of minutes, my body blew to twice its size," McCormack told New Zealand's 3News.

His boss, Robbie Petersen, witnessed the accident and said, "He became more and more distressed and his whole body -- his face, his eyes started to close -- started to swell."

As the air pumped and he began to scream, co-workers struggled to pull him off of the nozzle. They managed to stop the air supply and put him on his side. It was an hour before paramedics arrived.

"I was blowing up like a football," recalled McCormack to 3News. "I had no choice but just to lie there, blowing up like a balloon."

When paramedics tried to insert a needle for a drip, the pressure from the air pushed the needle out. They were also unable to give him air through a tube in his nostrils.

Doctors say the air filled his abdomen and chest, as well as the space around his heart, lungs, and even behind his eyelids. The air separated his fat from his muscles and compressed his heart.

After being rushed to the hospital, a team of doctors put a hose through his ribs to get air to his lungs. Though doctors were able to get fluid out of him, the air had to come out the natural ways, resulting in an enormous case of flatulence. It took McCormack three days to go back to his normal size.

McCormack suffered no broken bones and no bruises, just a hole from where he was punctured. Leaving the hospital, he said, "I really feel like the Michelin Man."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio