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Snowboarders and skiers prone to different injuries on the slopes

Snowboarders and skiers may share the slopes, but the injuries they sustain are different, a study finds.

Researchers set out to find whether injuries suffered by skiers and snowboarders are similar, whether trends in injuries occur over time, and whether the introduction of terrain parks increased injury rates compared with standard slopes.

The study, published online recently in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, included skiers and snowboarders who were injured at a Vermont ski resort over 18 seasons from 1988 to 2006. In that time there were 2,260 total non-serious injuries seen among 2,088 snowboarders and 9,465 injuries among 8,645 skiers.

A control group consisted of 291 noninjured snowboarders and 2,075 noninjured skiers who were selected at random.

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The most common injury among all snowboarders was a wrist injury, probably because falls are commonly broken with an outstretched hand. Among adult skiers the most common injury was an anterior cruciate ligament sprain in the knee; for children it was a lower extremity contusion. The highest injury rates were seen among young, female inexperienced snowboarders.

Injuries that occurred in terrain parks, which were built during the last third of the study, were also examined. When researchers compared injury rates among those who spent time in a terrain park with rates among those who didn’t, they saw no substantial differences between the two.

What makes snowboarders and skiers more prone to injury? The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine reports that being active for periods without resting, using improper or faulty equipment, being dehydrated, skiing or snowboarding above what’s comfortable for your ability and not properly adjusting to the altitude can all contribute to getting hurt.


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