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Mark McMorris fully realizes that concussions are a very real part of the game in snowboarding.
There was a scary scene in the halfpipe at Winter X last weekend when Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov's face slammed hard into the wall as he was landing a trick. The snowboarder known as I-Pod had a broken nose, but scans showed no signs of brain or neck trauma.
McMorris wants to stay ahead of the game in concussion research and recently partnered with a company that uses video games to explore the effects of head injuries.
The Canadian rider is working with Highmark Interactive, a company that began last June and creates interactive mobile games in order to teach, diagnose, and ultimately treat concussions and other brain injuries. In addition, the company gathers neurological data.
One of the founders of the company is Dr. Sanjeev Sharma, who's spent years developing medical technology.
Slopestyle finals going down today !!
Let’s GOOO pic.twitter.com/jnjZPsZPx6
— Mark McMorris (@markmcmorris) January 27, 2018
"I had an opportunity to get involved with a very smart man in the medical field, who brought on a few athletes to promote it," McMorris explained. "I'm excited to see what happens with it."
On the website, the company says that one in three concussions are undiagnosed and that 90 percent of those who suffer a concussion don't lose consciousness. It also states that it's "creating an entirely new class of digital therapeutics to enhance neurocognitive performance through engagement. We can accomplish this through the use of games that stimulate neural networks in a novel manner that can lead to improved efficiency and functionality in both the injured brain as well as the non-injured brain."
McMorris is heading to the Winter Games nearly a year after a horrific crash left him wondering if he would ever compete again. He broke his jaw, arm, pelvis and ribs last March when he hit a tree while filming in the backcountry.
He's long been one of the premier snowboarders in Big Air and on the slopestyle course that combines intricate rail tricks with triple-cork jumps off 10-story-high jumps. He won a bronze medal in slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games.