Every winter, more than 5,600 Canadians get seriously injured during winter sports, new data show. And while preventing head injuries has been getting a lot attention of late, the new numbers suggest those injuries are not declining.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that in 2010–2011, more than 1,100 people were hospitalized for a injury related to hockey. But many more – around 2,300 people -- were admitted to hospital for a skiing or snowboarding fall or crash.

Other winter activities that led to hospital stays were: snowmobiling with 1,126 injuries last year; skating, with 889 injuries; and tobogganing, which led to 171 injuries.

It's important to note that these numbers only include hospital admissions, not visits to the emergency room or to a doctor's office, so the total number of injuries is actually much higher. The numbers also don't include deaths at the scene.

The researchers say the number of hospitalizations from winter activities has not really changed much since 2006–2007. Last year, for example, 415 Canadians were hospitalized for head injuries related to a winter sport – a number that has remained relatively stable since 2006–2007. Nearly one-third of these head injuries occurred while skiing or snowboarding.

Dr. Natalie Yanchar, the medical director at IWK Trauma Care in Halifax, says she finds the high numbers of winter sport-related injuries troubling.

"Many of these injuries are preventable, using proper equipment and training, and the severe injuries do involve head injuries," she told CTV News.

"Winter activities can be fun, but if they end up with a tragic death or disability due to head injury, then it's not so fun," she added.

The study found that half of all hospitalizations last year for hockey injuries and close to one-third of all those for skiing and snowboarding were among kids age 10 to 19. Boys accounted for 81 per cent of those hurt in this age group.

Children younger than 10 were hospitalized most often for injuries related to skiing and snowboarding followed by tobogganing.

Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, says studies such as these are important to raise awareness of the risks of winter sports.

"We need to look at how people are getting hurt and then develop multiple methods to avoid that," he said.

"So if we take skiing, there are simple things people can do. First of all, they can get the proper training. Secondly, their behaviour has to be appropriate to their level of ability. So if they're not a double-black-diamond, they shouldn't consider those challenging runs."

The study found that for all winter-related serious injuries, falls on ice were by far the most common cause: they led to 7,138 hospital admissions in 2010–2011 -- more than for all winter sports and recreational activities combined. About half of these cases occurred in people age 60 and older and about 70 per cent were among those 50 and older.

Yanchar says her study is not meant to discourage people from taking part in winter sports, but to take as many precautions as they can.

"The important thing is to get out and be active but protect yourself and your children," she said.

With a report from CTV's medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip