Menu
Scientific Advances
Natural compound speeds bone growth
Astronomers spy massive stars in the making
Frog gene map a leap forward for humans
Sun-shy mums may raise MS risk in babies
Soft fossils provide new target for ET search
Mammoth blood brought back to life
Outdoor exercise can boost self esteem
Athletes on growth hormone 'sprint faster'
Countdown begins to 520 day 'Mars mission'
Warmer planet to stress humans: study
Plasma rocket to shorten space voyages
Vaccine may trigger infant epilepsy onset
'Fingerprinting' points to dusty Australia
The hole in the ozone layer: 25 years on
Humans interbred with Neanderthals: analysis
Herschel shows star formation is slowing
Washing hands makes tough choices easier
'Face-book' to measure pain in mice
Science gives clues to World Cup success
Human sigh acts as a reset button
Expert confirms Phar Lap arsenic theory
Dictionary blunder a matter of gravity
Warning on high-dose vitamin D
Calling mum makes you feel better
Mountain biking as risky as football, diving
High speeds, extreme terrain and long vertical drops might be making the increasingly popular sport of mountain biking as risky as football, diving and cheerleading, according to a Canadian study.

The findings warn that taking two wheels to the trails invites the danger of a spinal injury. One of every six cases reviewed was severe enough to result in complete paralysis.

"People need to know that the activities they choose to engage in may carry with them unique and specific risks," says Dr Marcel Dvorak of the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"Helmets will not protect you from these injuries, nor will wearing Ninja Turtle-like body armour."

Previous studies had described both the range of injuries sustained by mountain bikers and the spinal injuries suffered across a variety of sports. But no one had evaluated the specific risks of spinal injury among mountain bikers.

Dvorak and his colleagues identified 102 men and five women who were seen at British Columbia's primary spine centre between 1995 and 2007 after mountain biking accidents.

The average patient was 33 years old and all but two were recreational riders, they report in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Thrown over

The team couldn't calculate the risk of a spine injury among those who mountain biked, but they figured that over the 13-year study period, the annual rate was one in 500,000 British Columbia residents.

The riders accounted for 4% of all spine trauma admissions to the centre.

Surgery was required for about two-thirds of the mountain bikers, but the most devastating injuries were the 40% that involved the spinal cord. Of these, more than 40% led to complete paralysis.

"Wrist fractures and facial fractures are common" among mountain bikers, says Dvorak. "But spine injuries are the most severe with the most profound long-term consequences."

The majority of riders, he explained, were injured as a result of either being propelled over the handlebars or falling from great heights. In both scenarios, the result was often a severe impact to the head that triggered trauma down the neck and spine.

"The higher the jump or fall, the higher the risk," he said.

Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers found no relationship between helmet wearing and the overall severity of a rider's injuries.

"Helmets are good in preventing head injuries, but they do not in any way protect your neck," says Dvorak.

Print
Climate change impact on malaria questioned
Single lens glasses can help prevent falls
Movies manipulate our primal response
Luminescent sharks become invisible
Synthetic biology research gets a hearing
Source of ancient carbon 'burp' detected
Why the goddess of love is in a spin
Computer program recognises online sarcasm
New dinosaur had record-sized horns
Physicists solve missing neutrino mystery
Milk from grass-fed cows may be better
Crabs caught spying on rivals' love claws
Lifestyle may not boost breast cancer gene risk
'Trade-off' gene for plants discovered
Pacific islands growing, not sinking
Caffeine addicts get no real perk
Velvet worm's deadly slime revealed
SpaceX cleared for Florida lift-off
Cyborg rights 'need debating now'
Sunlight shines on silver technology
Mountain biking as risky as football, diving
Dusty simulations may reveal planets
Legal fight over breast cancer gene
Unions call for urgent nano information
Solar panel attraction deadly for insects
Meat eaters munched many ways: study
Snakes may be in decline worldwide
Dogs dumbed down by domestication
Menu
Fossil sheds new light on 'dino-bird'
DNA 'spiderbot' is on the prowl
GM cotton use increases fruit pest problem
Warming to kill off a fifth of all lizards
Super massive black hole given the boot
Ball lightning could be 'all in the mind'
Immune system could be used to test for TB
Mobile phone cancer link unclear, study
Teen brain wired to take risks
Synchrotron probes Egyptian beads
Argonauts 'gulp' air to swim freely
Space station gets a new room
'Digital genome' to protect dying data formats
Sweep yields leads for new malaria drugs
Researchers snap signs of illegal fishing
Spectrum reveals supernova surprise
Scientists create synthetic life
Eavesdropping a waste of energy
Star caught eating its offspring
Megafauna die-off may have cooled planet
Hepatitis C no longer 'death sentence'
Atoms bring quantum computing closer
Visualisation staves off constant craving
Experts debate homeopathy funding