*Health Scan: Few kite surfers wear protective gear, raising risk of serious injury*

Dr. Pavel Kotlarsky, Dr. Yaron Berkowitz and colleagues examined the records of practitioners of the sport that they had treated over a decade.

March 21, 2015 22:05
4 minute read.
Israeli kite surfer Eli Zarka gets airborne with five-year-old Michael Smila (R) in Eilat

Israeli kite surfer Eli Zarka gets airborne with five-year-old Michael Smila (R) in Eilat. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Kitesurfing is very dangerous, according to orthopedists, surgeons and emergency medicine specialists at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center who systematically studied the sport, which has attracted thousands of Israelis. Located at Bat Galim, the hospital is a stone’s throw away from the Mediterranean sea and in view of kite surfers.

In a “first-ever” comprehensive study on the subject, Dr. Pavel Kotlarsky, Dr. Yaron Berkowitz and colleagues examined the records of practitioners of the sport that they had treated over a decade.

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There are an estimated 1.5 million kite surfers around the world. It’s a surface-water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics into one extreme sport. A kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind via a large, controllable power kite to propel himself across the water on a kiteboard, similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard, with or without footstraps or bindings.

The researchers stated that many kite surfers “don’t use the necessary protective gear and as a result suffer trauma similar to that seen in road accident victims and people who fall from heights.” As many of them prefer extreme weather for the sport, they go out when the waves are very rough.

The unique structure of the beach opposite Mount Carmel attracts many kite surfers.

The sport has taken the lives of two Israelis in recent years; there have also been many suffering serious injures to the head, chest and limbs, said the researchers, who also used the Internet to personally collect information from kite surfers. Most were orthopedic injuries (mostly leg and hip fractures but 17 percent involved harm to the head.

Besides the Rambam study, there have been only six statistical surveys of the phenomena in the world. In South Africa, 30 injured kitesurfers had to be evacuated from the deep sea in one year alone, said Kotlarsky.

“Not one of them was wearing a safety helmet. I appeal to the sportsmen who go out to windsurf to protect themselves. It can save their lives.”


High school pupils who want to become paramedics and are taking five-unit courses in biology, medicine, chemistry or physics can join a special program for 13th and 14th grades. It was recently approved by the Education Ministry and is being set up by Ariel University and Magen David Adom, which will hire them when they graduate.

The program, which will begin in September, also requires taking at least four units in English and mathematics and makes it possible to delay military service to join the technological and academic Israel Defense Forces program (Atuda) and work as paramedics as part of their mandatory service. The curriculum will be taught by MDA paramedics on the Ariel University campus.


A 13-year-old girl born with a serious congenital defect in her reproductive system has undergone a rare operation at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The young resident of the north lacked two-thirds of her vagina. Doctors, led by Prof. Boris Chertin, head of pediatric urology, led a team that removed mucous tissue from inside her cheek as raw material to perform the reconstruction – for the first time in Israel.

In the past, to perform such a repair it was necessary to perform a major and dangerous operation that could lead to cancer. But in 2006, Dr. Linda Becker of Children’s Hospital in Dallas developed a new technique using the mucous membrane from the oral cavity.

So far, only a few such procedures have been performed anywhere in the world.

The urologist said that the operation was successful and that while the patient would need to give birth by cesarean section, the vagina would have normal sexual function.

The tissue in the mouth renews itself within a month with no signs or side effects, he added. The reconstruction took six hours to complete, and the girl was sent home after a week of hospitalization. Some 90 percent of cases in which babies or older children are born with deformed sexual organs are referred to SZMC for surgery.


The new Galilee Medical Faculty in Safed has not yet had a graduating class, but its first 40 students just had a “white-coat ceremony” in which they ended their theoretical studies and began their clinical studies at the bedside in hospitals. They were divided up among Ziv Medical Center in the city, as well as the Western Galilee Government Hospital in Nahariya, Poriya Medical Center in Tiberias and voluntary hospitals in Nazareth.

The medical school, a branch of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, is led by dean Prof.

Ran Tur-Kaspa and has some 500 students – 400 going for an MD degree and the rest master’s and doctoral degrees in the medical sciences. More than half are women.

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