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Do surfers have to wear helmets?  Concussions, a growing concern in growing sport

(KTLA) – Derek Dunfee, a former professional surfer and big wave photographer, said he used to ride 50-foot waves.

However, the San Diego surfer’s career ended after more than 20 concussions and was left almost blind in one eye.

“There are a lot of things that I have done and prepared for these erasures, but when you get hit by a 50 foot wave, especially in terms of head trauma and concussions, you can’t do a lot to prepare for it, ”Dunfee said. .

Dr Christopher Giza, UCLA program director Steve Tisch BrainSPORT, said the few studies that have looked at brain damage in surfing have found that the number of concussions has increased over the past two decades.

“One of the possibilities is that there are more people participating in sport, so if there are more in sport, then the same percentage could be injured,” Giza said.

But currently, Giza said “there isn’t really a culture to pay attention to head injuries in surfing.”

“There is certainly no culture of wearing helmets,” he added.

Terry Simms, founder of Simba Surf Helmets, wants to change that.

Simms estimated that during the pandemic, the number of surfers in California doubled from 1 million to nearly 2 million.

Simms encourages all surfers – those who chose the hobby during the pandemic and multi-year pros – to wear helmets. They may not prevent all concussions, but they can help protect surfers when they hit sand, a reef, or the board itself.

“It’s not the size of the wave at all. In fact, it has nothing to do with it. When it’s your time, it’s your time. And that’s it, period, ”said Simms.

He and other helmet advocates may be making progress.

Dunfee, the former professional surfer, said he’s starting to notice a change when it comes to headgear in surfing.

“I’ve had multiple concussions in smaller waves, and these are things I’m more aware of,” Dunfee said. “A lot of people wear helmets, which I encourage.”

Simms said this is a positive trend that will remain important as surfing looks to continue to grow.

“It really is a way not only to help surfing, but also to protect our future, who are our children, because that’s where it all begins. “


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