Dr. Diao on the Importance of Wrist Guards for Snowboarders

Location:  Yellowstone Club, Montana
Occasion:  Annual Ski/Snowboarding Safety Symposium
Other Participants:  Director of Skiing, Warren Miller; Ski Ambassador, Scott Schmidt, The World's Greatest Extreme Skier; Ski Ambassador, Hang Kashiwa, Olympian and Pioneering Freestyle Skier

On our annual trip to the Yellowstone Club, my son Conrad, age 15 and I were special guests of Laurie and Warren Miller at their slope-side, 6,000 sq ft custom built home. On the day of our arrival, we skied for two hours, then joined the Millers at the weekly Yellowstone Club reception for members and their guests.  Warren regaled the crowd with his countless stories of the golden age of skiing circa, 1945 to present.  He has worked with and filmed virtually every renowned skier worldwide in exotic settings.  Laced with humor and his special insights, and of course, the voice that narrated scores of feature length films, he regaled the crowd.  It was there that I met two living legends of skiing:  Scott Schmidt and Hang Kashiwa.  We started to converse about skiing and snowboarding trends and how to better promote safety while promoting the sports we are all passionate about.

The next day after a full day of skiing, the weekly open house tea at the Miller Residence found 50 eager participants to reveal at the expensive views-- the incredible Pacific Northwest Montana and Asian inspired decor with hundreds of Warren Miller posters, drawings, and awards.

Our real work was reserved for Sunday.  We skied the most technical and extreme run on the mountain top, a drop-off-a cornice,  steep chute/couloir called Stien's Run, named after the legendary Stien Ericson and close personal friend of Warren Miller's.  It was a rare treat to make these runs with Scott and Hank.  Scott's entry into the run was different ... jaw dropping every time and his powerful graceful rhythmic lines were breathtaking, as befits his status as the most filmed and best-known extreme skier on the planet. Hank was smooth and efficient.  He is an incredible ambassador for Orthopaedic Surgery, having had a total knee replacement in 2005 after 18 prior operations.  Conrad and I accounted for ourselves as well...no mishaps, and we did the run four times!

Afterward, Hank showed me the latest in splint technology...breathable, conforming, customized braces that could function like a gauntlet cast. In two quick moves, it converted to a removable bivalved brace for the protection of injuries that are healing and undergoing rehabilitation.  I was impressed enough to start using the product in my practice as soon as the product is made available to me.

Sunday night was reserved for a quiet dinner at the Miller's where I fired up some steaks and a salad.  Warren shared great stories from his childhood in Southern California to his various travels and adventures.  He has a unique perspective on life, not just skiing.  He is truly an American hero and national treasure.  Though he had a lot to do with promoting free skiing and extreme skiing, he is very supportive of ideas to prevent injuries.  He and his wife have also been significant consumers of Orthopaedic Surgery and Hand Surgery.

In a recent study, Russell et al. studied the effect of wrist guards on wrist and arm injuries among snowboarders in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 2007 and they concluded that,

"Regardless of study design, our analysis shows consistently that wrist guards significantly reduce the risk of wrist injuries."  They also demonstrate that beginner snowboarder are the group who get the maximum benefits from wearing wrist guards.  The following enclosed articles have some interesting recommendations for types of wrists guards that may be less cumbersome than the standard rigid wrist cock-up splints.

So... have fun and be safe.  Don't forget your helmets (everyone) and wrist guards (boarders)!

You Might Also Enjoy...

Dr. Neil Jones Visits San Francisco

I had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Neil Jones, who is a University Professor at the University of California Los Angeles and Past President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.