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The issue of an adjustable releasable binding for snowboard skiing has been the subject of comment for many years. This literature review covers a total of 24 papers, one presentation, and one previously unpublished data source (total of 26 references); they range from the earliest known study to the most recent known survey as of July 2006. There are numerous other papers that deal with various aspects of snowboard injuries, but it was judged that they did not have any significant bearing on the issue of a release binding, and thus we have not included them in this review. The purpose of the review is to examine the available peer-reviewed research literature on this topic with the purpose of identifying injury patterns and mechanisms of injury that would be amenable to mitigation by means of an adjustable releasable binding. The main conclusion is that the risk of tibia fracture (as determined in absolute terms using MDBI) is significantly higher for skiing than for snowboarding, even though ski bindings have a release capability and snowboard bindings by-and-large do not. The current concept of releasable/adjustable snowboard bindings appears to be based in large measure on the releasable/adjustable alpine ski bindings. This conclusion is based on the observation that the primary release mechanisms are substantially the same, i.e., lateral at the toe and vertically at the heel. The only known standards testing ever done of a snowboard binding (Meyer) used Alpine ski binding evaluation methods. To the best of our knowledge, no snowboarding binding manufacturer has ever explicitly expressed anything to the contrary; i.e., the model of protection is different from Alpine ski bindings. Thus the only logical conclusion is that the release function of the snowboard binding would be the same for snowboarders as the release function of Alpine ski bindings is for skiers; i.e., protection of the mid-shaft region of the tibia. As of the time of this review, there have been no scientific studies performed (or published) to demonstrate whether releasable snowboard bindings would have any effect on injury rates in snowboarding in general or for any specific injury. The many published studies on snowboard injury rates, alone or compared to Alpine skiing injuries, have led to significant speculation that releasable snowboard bindings would not decrease injury rates, and that they might perhaps increase injury rates in snowboarding. Appropriate scientific studies are required to demonstrate their potential effectiveness. There does not seem to be any biomechanical or epidemiological evidence (either relative in terms of percent of all injuries, or absolute in terms of MDBI) that releasable bindings for snowboards would be likely to reduce the incidence of injuries that are significantly controlled for with Alpine ski bindings, and therefore this review does not lend support to the proposition that a releasable binding similar to current Alpine ski bindings should be a recommended practice for snowboarding.
snowboard, releasable adjustable binding
Shealy, Jasper E.
Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Johnson, Robert J.
Professor, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Ettlinger, Carl F.
President, Vermont Safety Research, VT