Regulations controlling the sport of paragliding were issued in April 1987 by the German Department of Transportation. The growing popularity of this sport has led to a steady increase in the number of associated injuries. This study presents the incidence, localization and degree of injuries associated with paragliding documented in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The 283 injuries suffered by 218 paragliders were documented in the period 1987-1989: 181 occurred during landing, 28 during starting procedures and nine during flight. The mean patient age was 29.6 years. There were 34.9% spinal injuries, 13.4% upper extremity injuries and 41.3% lower limb injuries. Over half of these injuries were treated surgically and in 54 instances permanent disability remained. In paragliding the lower extremities are at greatest risk of injury during landing. Proper equipment, especially sturdy footwear, exact training in landing techniques as well as improved instruction in procedures during aborted or crash landings is required to reduce the frequency of these injuries.
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