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Since 1939, reports on the severity of ski injuries have claimed that downhill skiing is dangerous. The reported injury rate varies from 0.8 to 9.1 per 1000 skier days. Two studies at the same ski field, 28 years apart, gave injury rates of 2.7 and 2.4. This was over the period of greatest development for skiing and ski safety equipment. The reported injury rate in 1939 in Norway was 2.7 injuries per 1000 skier days and in 1988 in New Zealand was 4.7 injuries per 1000 skier days. The mean for that 49-year period was 3.5 injuries per 1000 skier days. The mix of injuries has clearly changed, but the actual rate of injury as measured in injuries per skier day has hardly altered. Is skiing safer now than in 1939, or are the comparisons not equal? Well-designed epidemiological studies are needed to measure true incidence accurately; only then can the effectiveness of safety measures be determined.
skiing injuries, injury rate (per 1000 skier days), international comparisons (of rate), injury mix, muscle strength, incidence, safety precautions
Private physiotherapist, Mangere Health Centre, Waddon Place Mangere, Auckland