Snowboarding has witnessed an enormous growth in popularity and participation in the last decade. A prospective study was instituted to ascertain the injuries suffered during snowboarding. From 1988 through 1996 questionnaires were collected from 47 medical facilities within the state of Colorado. Four thousand three hundred and ninety physician-diagnosed injuries were obtained and analyzed utilizing an SPSS computer statistical package.
There were 1929 (44%) upper extremity, 1650 (38%) lower extremity, and 811 (18%) other injuries. The mean age of the injured snowboarder was 23 years (7 to 71). There were 3241 males (74%) and 1137 females (26%).
Wrist injuries numbered 869 (20%), and only 5% of injured snowboarders wore some form of wrist protection. Closed head injuries numbered 86 (2.3%) with head contusions, facial fractures, scalp and facial lacerations contributing an additional 2.4%. Only 1.3% of injured snowboarders wore helmets, and 32% of injured participants admitted to a previous snowboarding injury. Spine injuries were fractures 47 (1.2%), sprain/strain 125 (2.8%), and contusions 39 (1.0%).
Beginner snowboarders suffered more MCL injuries, while experts had more of the ACL injuries. There was no correlation between had shell boots and ACL disruption, and 82% of ACL injuries occurred in males. Knee injuries from snowboarding (15%) remain less than one half of the rate suffered by alpine skiers.
Fractures of the anterolateral process of the talus numbered 110 (2.5%) and often required a CT scan for definitive diagnosis. Operative intervention is suggested for all but nondisplaced fractures.
Snowboarding injury patterns are quite distinct, and further research and education should now concentrate on preventative measures.