Volume 7, Issue 4 (April 2010)
Aging Trends in Alpine Skiing
As the skiing population in the United States ages, what are the concerns with regard to age-related injuries and possible injury prevention strategies? Between December 1972 and April 2006 the authors evaluated prospectively 18 692 injuries sustained by 17 197 skiers that were reported to the injury clinic which operated in the base lodge of a moderate size northern Vermont ski area. Data from a total of 3966 uninjured randomly selected controls were also collected. During that time approximately 6 830 200 skier-visits were accrued by the area. The overall injury rate averaged 365 mean days between injuries over the 34 years of the study and decreased by approximately 50 % over the period. The regressed mean age of the injured population during that time increased from 22.8 to 32.4 years-of-age. The control population increased from 22.9 to 35.8 years-of-age. The increase in the age of the skiing public roughly matches the age increases in the U.S. population. This analysis divides the 34 years of the study into two equal sized periods: An early and a later one. The population is then divided into two age cohorts (55 and under, and over 55 years of age) to see what trends can be identified that are age-related as opposed to time-related. The various injuries have been grouped into 13 major injury groups for the purpose of analysis. Seven of the 13 injury groups show a lower risk of injury for skiers over 55 than the general skiing public; ranging from 11 % to as much as 42 % lower. Five injury groups show no difference. The only increased major injury group found to be age-related is tibial plateau fractures, at 5.7 times higher than the general skiing population. Overall the over 55 age group is at a lower risk of injury than the general skiing public.