Background Skiing and snowboarding, popular competitive and recreational sports, can be associated with significant injury. In 2014/15, there were 53.6 million ski- and snowboarder-visits to United States (US) resorts. Previous studies of skiing and snowboarding injuries have been conducted, but studies evaluating injury patterns over long periods of time are needed to drive effective injury prevention efforts.
Objective Compare patterns of skiing and snowboarding injuries presenting to emergency departments (EDs) from 2000–2015.
Design Retrospective descriptive epidemiology.
Setting US EDs.
Participants Patients presenting with skiing or snowboarding injuries.
Assessment of Risk Factors Case reports were obtained from a large national hospital surveillance system that included sample weighting factors enabling calculation of national estimates.
Main Outcome Measurements Injury incidence and characteristics.
Results From 2000–2015, 36,145 injured skiers (48.0%) and snowboarders (52.0%) presented to US EDs representing an estimated 1,660,514 injuries nationwide. Males represented most skiing (59.7%) and snowboarding (73.2%) injuries. Skiers were older than snowboarders (mean 31.7 vs. 19.7 years; p<0.01); patients aged 10–19 represented more snowboarding (57.8%) than skiing (31.6%) injuries. Common diagnoses included sprains/strains (skiers=32.2%; snowboarders=24.7%) and fractures (skiers=27.7%, snowboarders=35.7%). Knees (20.8%) and shoulders (14.4%) were most commonly injured in skiers; wrists (20.1%) and shoulders (15.9%) in snowboarders. Individuals most often hospitalized following ED presentation were male (74.8%) and 15–19 years old (20.5%). Compared to all other injuries, fractures (OR=3.66, 95% CI=3.10–4.37) and head injuries (OR=2.10, 95% CI=1.44–3.06) more often resulted in hospitalization. After controlling for age, sex, body part, and diagnosis, skiers were more likely to be hospitalized than snowboarders (OR=1.43, 95% CI=1.16–1.77).
Conclusions Injury patterns and severity vary between skiers and snowboarders. Understanding the epidemiology of injuries presenting to EDs can help guide prehospital care and medical coverage allocation for resorts and event organizers, as well as identifying areas for targeted injury prevention efforts.
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