11-year-old Orange County Surfer Suffers Catastrophic Head Injury in Snowboarding Accident

11-year-old Orange County Surfer Suffers Catastrophic Head Injury in Snowboarding Accident

Brayden Belden, an up-and-coming 11-year-old surfer from Laguna Beach who was moving up the rankings in amateur surf contests is in a medically-induced coma after suffering a catastrophic head injury when he was snowboarding in Oregon Feb. 20. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, Brayden was airlifted from the mountain to a hospital in Bend. A GoFundMe page set up for the child’s medical costs says when his parents arrived at the hospital, they learned that Brayden’s injuries were much more serious than initially believed and that he may only have hours to live.

Long Road to Recovery

Doctors then worked to stabilize him so he could survive a life flight to Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland where the right experts and equipment could give Brayden a better chance at survival. For now, he still remains in a medically-induced coma. While he is expected to survive, his road to recovery is expected to be long and arduous. Last year, Brayden won the boys division in the Brooks St. Surfing Classic, a long-running community surf contest.

Nearly $100,000 was raised just in two days for Brayden’s treatment costs, which goes to show just how well-liked and popular he is in the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with young Brayden. We pray that he and his family receive the strength they need to get through these extremely difficult times.

Concussion and Head Injuries in Snowboarding

While we’ve heard a lot of discussion and debate about the effects of concussions in football, ice hockey and boxing, skiing and snowboarding are less talked about. This, of course, does not mean these sports don’t have a concussion problem. According to an article on snowboarder Kevin Pearce who had a career-ending brain injury on Dec. 31, 2009, said he suffered a severe concussion less than three weeks before that catastrophic injury. He said he shouldn’t even have been snowboarding after that accident.

Pearce’s story is an example of what can go wrong when athletes go flying off three stories in the air to perform tricks on a hard-packed halfpipe. Snowboarder Shaun White has also acknowledged that he has suffered several concussions in his career. After his accident, Pearce spent years in rehab to relearn motor skills, improve his vision and memory and just perform everyday functions. While he rues his decision to get back on the slopes before his concussion was healed, Brayden’s accident comes as a warning call to parents of young children who want to take up the sport.




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