Paul Raymore

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November 12, 2003
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Fractured tales - First busted wrist of snow season logged

At noon on Monday, snowboarder Mark Bauhs, 15, was eight feet above the snow after launching off a jump in the Boreal terrain park. Seconds later, he was back on the snow in a lot of pain - the result of a bad landing that left him with a fractured radius in his forearm and a lot of explaining to do to his volleyball coach.

Two hours later, his became the first signature to go up on the Tahoe Forest Hospital's 2003-04 Wrist Fracture Hall of Fame.

Bauhs, a Junior Olympic-caliber volleyball player from the Bay area, was on a trip with his club volleyball team to play a tournament in Sacramento. After the tournament, members of the team decided to drive up to Boreal for a couple of days of snowboarding, even though their coach was not pleased with the idea.

"He will be thoroughly pissed," Bauhs said about his volleyball coach.

Fortunately, Bauhs' injury happened in one of the best places in the world for treatment of all types of fractures. The staff at the hospital's emergency room see more than 1,000 wrist fractures each year, a volume that ensures they have a lot of experience dealing with those types of injuries.

The sheer number of wrist fractures seen by staff at the ER has prompted them to put up a large banner each year that they call the Wrist Fracture Hall of Fame. Last year, every inch of the banner was covered with signatures by the end of the winter sports season, and doctors expect the same result this year.

"Wrist fractures are the number one reason for coming to the ER," registered nurse Jeff Jackson said.

And more than 90 percent of wrist injuries happen to snowboarders.

According to Jackson, the record number of wrist fractures in one day was 38. "We had them all lined up in the hall, with three in the room getting treated, just cycling through. We went through three boxes of splinting material that day."

Jackson claims it was the extraordinarily hard and icy conditions on that day that contributed to all the injuries. "Every time a snowboarder went down that day, they broke something," Jackson said.

While Bauhs will need just six weeks to recover from his injury, ER physicians and nurses see a lot of more serious fractures and other orthopedic injuries every winter season.

"With volume comes technique," said Bev Brink, nursing director of the hospital's Emergency Department. "We cause our patients a lot less pain than hospitals that don't see as many."


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The Union Updated Nov 12, 2003 12:00AM Published Nov 12, 2003 12:00AM Copyright 2003 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.