Have Fun but Remember to be Have Fun but Remember to be Extra CautiousExtra Cautious

Ever have the urge to try bungee jumping?Or sky diving? I’m really hard pressed for something to do when I think of it, or when I decide I’ve lived long enough. But you don’t have to go to these extremes to test your fate.This week,some examples of pushing your luck too far.

I’ve often looked with wonder at people of all ages who line up to roar down large roller coaster rides. I question whether the “G” forces are too much for the elderly, children and those in poor shape. A new report in the medical journal Family Practice has finally answered my question. It shows some people would be better off standing in line for the ferris wheel. A 64-year-old man had a passion for trying all the giant roller coaster rides. But recently, following a few rides, he developed a headache.

Nevertheless, this roller coasterholic couldn’t say no and kept lining up. In the end, he had taken the same ride 11 times. His headache was so severe he had to stop. There was no let up in the throbbing pain on the left side of his head on his arrival home. The pain increased when he shook his head. But not when he coughed or sneezed. Because the pain continued unabated he was forced to seek medical help. The patient was seen by Dr. Charles Bolton and Yousef Bo-Abbas, neurologists at the University Hospital in London, Ont. They could not detect any abnormality during a neurological examination. His mental state was also found to be normal.

But a CT scan revealed a left-sided subdural hematoma, a blood clot beneath the skull, eight millimetres in size. Two weeks later the blood clot had increased to 10 millimetres and brain surgery was performed to remove the clot. The patient recovered.  So what happened? The neurologists believe “G” forces had produced shearing stresses causing a vessel to rupture. In effect, it is the same type of stress that occurs when a newborn baby is shaken too strongly.

Dr. Bolton recalled seeing a similar blood clot in the brain following a whip-lash injury. Could this happen from a single roller coaster ride? No one knows the answer. I don’t recommend anyone try to find out. And if you can’t deny yourself this form of entertainment, at least stop after one ride. Do you want to entertain your children by erecting a basketball hoop and add a springboard so they can emulate their towering basketball heroes?

Dr. David Kumamoto is clinical professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He says practically all dental injuries from this sport occur in under-sized, under-talented youth who try to dunk the ball. Tooth injuries occur typically in children about 12 years of age and an average height of 5’3″. Children launch themselves from a raised platform, a spring-board or trampoline and leap toward the rim of the basket. They often let loose a big yell with their mouths wide open and end up with their faces at net level.

The result? Several children in his practice lost several teeth, usually the upper front teeth. And often the impact is so severe the dislodged the teeth could not be found, or the injury so extensive that re-implantation of the teeth could not be done. It’s apparent Kumamoto’s study is just the tip of the iceberg. Following his presentation to the World Dental Congress, other dentists related additional cases. Researchers now estimate 50,000 of these injuries occur every year. The best way to prevent similar injuries is to realize unsupervised sport activity for children is dangerous. In Kumamoto’s study, no dental injuries occurred during competition. They always took place in the driveway or backyard.

Players involved in competition are usually older, more mature and have longer arms. Their faces are not in the net when they dunk the ball. The moral? Always oversee your children while they’re involved in sports. Don’t lower the basketball net to a point where a face can make contact with it. If you have a springboard, expect trouble. And whether you or your children are driveway or professional players, use a mouth guard.

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