Volume 3, Issue 5 (May 2006)
Observational Study on Fall Trends in Snowboarders
Snowboarding has distinctly different injury patterns compared with traditional alpine skiing. Injuries occur more frequently in the upper extremity and less frequently in the knees compared to alpine skiing. Snowboarding continues to evolve as a sport, with active participation at all age and experience levels, and on different terrain including slopes, pipes, and terrain parks. An observational study of snowboarders at one U.S. and one Austrian ski resort was conducted during the 2004–05 season to investigate fall trends in a snowboarding population. The purpose of the study was to quantify the incidence of falling, what anatomical structure impacted during a fall, fall direction, and helmet usage as a function of age, gender, ability level, and terrain. Two categories of terrain were identified; standard slopes and terrain parks including half-pipes. Children and adults fall twice as often as youths and young adults. Beginners fall approximately six times more often than advanced snowboarders, and average more than one fall per beginner per run. Runs in the pipe and in a terrain park resulted in a fall 34 and 20 % of the time, respectively. Terrain and experience dictated which body part impacted the snow surface. For beginners, 72 % of all falls were onto the hands. For more experienced participants in the half-pipe or in a terrain park, 50 % of falls were onto the boarder's back or bottom. Helmet use for snowboarders was slightly greater than 50 %. Children were most likely to use a helmet (>90 %), while less than 40 % of young adults used helmets. These observational data will be expanded and combined with injury data to quantify injury risk in the sport of snowboarding as a function of key demographics and environmental variables.