June 11, 2008

Snowboarding Accounts For Most Outdoor Injuries

An unprecedented review of recreational injuries found that most injuries occur during snowboarding than any other outdoor activity.

Broken bones and sprains accounted for half of all cases studied. About 7 percent of ER visits were for concussions or other brain injuries.

Sledding and hiking were the second and third most dangerous activities, researchers said.

"We want people to participate in outdoor recreational activities. But we want people to recognize that there's cause for concern and people can and do get injured," study co-author Arlene Greenspan said Tuesday.

She added that people could be more prepared for outdoor activities by taking simple precautions to ensure a person's fitness level and skills match the activity. Also, proper safety equipment is necessary.

Researchers studied the data of nonfatal injuries from outdoor activities reported at 63 hospitals in 2004 and 2005. Almost 213,000 people were treated each year nationwide. About half of those injured are young, between ages 10 and 24 and half of the injuries are caused by falls.

Almost 23 percent of injuries were from snowboarding, 11 percent were sledding involved, and hiking accounted for about 6 percent.

Males are injured twice as much as women, they noted, but the reasons were not determined.

"It could be that males are more risky or it could be that males just participate more than females, or a combination of both," said Greenspan.

"It makes perfect sense to me that snowboard injuries rank high," said Dr. Paul Auerbach, of Stanford School of Medicine, who writes a blog on outdoor medicine.

Such studies allow researchers to look for patterns in injuries that can be used in prevention programs, Auerbach said. He's one of the founders of the Wilderness Medical Society, which publishes the journal.

"Some activities have risks and you can't take all the risks out of the wilderness," said Auerbach. "But what you'd like to do is take the unnecessary risk out."


On the Net:

CDC's Injury Center

Wilderness Medical Society