Brain Injuries and Extreme Sports?

Brain Injuries and Extreme Sports?
Brain Injuries and Extreme Sports?

The appeal of extreme sports is in the adrenaline rush the athlete feels while engaged in the activity. The inherent danger involved, combined with the athlete’s requirement to push their body beyond its perceived limits, makes sports such as base jumping and free climbing a draw for millions of thrill seekers. Unfortunately, those who choose to participate in extreme sports often pay a higher price than other athletes. Injuries suffered by extreme sports athletes are often more severe and, as is the case with brain injuries, can sometimes lead to permanent disability.

In 2009, there were nearly 447,000 people treated in emergency rooms for sports-related head injuries, up 95,000 from the year prior. Exactly how many of those injuries can be attributed to extreme sports isn’t clear, but the number of reported cycling (racing, BMX) head injuries increased by about 14,500 from just the previous year. Some versions of bicycle racing and BMX riding are considered to be extreme sports, so it can be surmised that at least part of the increase in head injuries was due to people pushing their limitations through participation in extreme sports.

It’s no surprise that the risk of injury while engaging in extreme sports is greater than it is in other sports. That’s the entire appeal for those who choose one type of sport over another. But, since most sports are physically demanding and potentially dangerous, what is the distinction between levels of danger, and how is one sport classified as extreme while another is not?

What is an Extreme Sport?

There is no single definition of an extreme sport but generally speaking, a sport is considered to be extreme if it has a high level of danger and probability of serious injury or death. Of course, that is precisely what is unclear to many people, because one person’s definition of a high level of danger may be different than the next person’s definition. For example, some people don’t consider bicycle racing to be any more dangerous than the average sport, yet it is grouped in the same category as other extreme sports, including ice climbing, paragliding, wing suit sky diving, free running (Parkour), and freestyle motocross.

If someone chooses to participate in a sport that is considered by some to be extreme, does that mean that they would have no legal recourse should they get injured as a result? Not necessarily, because the cause of the injury could still be due to someone else’s negligence.

Extreme Sports and the Law

For the most part, courts contend that the person who participated in the injury-causing sport recognized and assumed the risk associated with it when they agreed to participate in the activity. In fact, that language is typically included in the legalese of liability waivers that athletes are required to sign prior to participation. However, under some circumstances the participant is not considered to be responsible for the injuries. A few examples include the following:

  • Negligence: If the negligence of either another player or the coach leads to injury, then the person who is injured is not liable for the injuries. An example of this could be equipment that malfunctions as a result of being improperly ‘prepped’ by someone else.
  • Willful Misconduct: If an opponent willfully causes injury, then the injured player is not deemed responsible for his injuries. This typically happens with contact sports.

There is some level of risk involved in nearly every sport, and for many people the higher the risk the better. However, when it comes to the potential for permanent disability, it is critical to fully assess the level of risk associated with any sport before deciding to take the plunge.

Sports Techie, Big air is a feeling like no other that many of you can relate to. Whether it is while biking on a MT bike trail, flying with a wingsuit or heli skiing on a mountain no one has ever tried to ski down before, the agony of defeat can at times overcome any thrill of victory or accomplishment extreme athletes feel because of body and head injuries.

Just this week, a driver pulled off a never before accomplished extreme sports stunt when he completed a 360 barrel role while in a truck at the Baja 1000. The morphing together of sports and technology is allowing humans and animals to do amazing feats that can be considered legally negligent and result in possible dismemberment, paralysis and even death.

I started doing Parkour a few years ago because of how it athletic a sport it is and because of the skill level the world’s best free runners exhibit in their online videos and during live events by Red Bull, X Games and Dew Tour to name a few.

For some, my beach run amongst the logs at Discovery Park in Seattle is extreme but for others it must seem like nothing more than a walk in the park. The reality is, no matter what your skill level, accidents happen. Wearing a helmet is a must when performing acts of extreme sport. A helmet can prevent brain injury, concussions and long-term health issues such as dementia, depression and memory loss.


A scary trend with extreme sports athletes (but not limited too) involves the use of GoPro and other cam manufacturers cameras that mount on your head, arm or the dog running beside you while filming the thrill he or she experienced while performing extreme sports can borders on willful misconduct. It is not enough anymore for a growing number of Sports Techie to do something on the sporting edge. In order to feel complete, capturing the action on film has become paramount to completing an extreme athletic performance.

I would add that many are hoping to pull off a once-in-a-lifetime athletic maneuver that can place them in grave danger in hopes that the video goes viral with the help of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Do a search on these sites or Google+, Instagram or Vine and checkout all the people (and animals) going extreme, filming it for posterity sake and then sharing clips with friends and the world over the Internet and on blogs, hoping to get picked up by big media such as the Huffington Post, Mashable and Bleacher Report.

Be smart Sports Techie, choose your extreme sports wisely and believe me, hearing about it over a cup of green tea or some cold suds works better than never hearing about it because of tragedy that happened because you had to film your crazy stunt with your new smartphone or tablet you got as a holiday gift.

I will see ya when I see ya, THE Sports Techie @THESportsTechie –

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