REUTERS – Snowboarders are hurt slightly more often than skiers, with the most injuries among young, inexperienced female boarders, according to a study from a Vermont ski resort.
Snowboarders were most likely to suffer a hurt wrist or shoulder, while skiers most often injured a knee ligament, the report in the American Journal of Sports Medicine said.
“Injury rates in snowboarders have fluctuated over time but currently remain higher than in skiers,” wrote Robert Johnson of the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, and colleagues.
“Injured snowboarders were significantly younger, less experienced, and more likely to be female than injured skiers or snowboard control participants,” he said.
Johnson and his colleagues analyzed injury reports from Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont from 1988 through 2006, counting a total of around 12,000 injuries severe enough to take skiers and snowboarders to the resort clinic.
Snowboarders accounted for 17 percent of the resort’s visitors during that time, but slightly more of its injuries — about 19 percent. Since 2001, the researchers said, injury rates have been consistently higher in snowboarders than skiers.
One in five of all snowboarding injuries in adults and close to two in five in children were wrist sprains and breaks, generally the result of a fall forward on snow.
Fractured collar bones and concussions each accounted for about four percent of the injuries in adult boarders and five percent in children.
Among skiers, torn and otherwise injured knee ligaments sidelined one-third of the adult skiers, with leg muscle bruises being most common in children, Johnson and his colleagues said.
On average, both skiers and snowboarders who got hurt were younger and less experienced than uninjured athletes who were surveyed for comparison.
“If you’ve got a whole bunch of people that are young and trying to learn how to do something that is like an extreme sport, there’s going to be a higher incidence of injury,” said David Salonen, a radiologist who has studied ski injuries at Toronto Western Hospital but was not involved in the study.
“In any sport — and skiing and snowboarding is one of them — there are areas that will be more threatening and challenging to the athlete but also more intriguing. As you’re younger in age, you have a tendency to want to push your limits,” Salonen said.
Johnson said wearing helmets and some kinds of wrist guards is helpful in avoiding injury, but making safe decisions is most important.
Prevention is about “common sense, which is a bit difficult to conjure up with the young males … who imitate what they see on the X Games,” he said.
“You have to modify your behavior and not go out hitting your head on trees, whether you’re wearing a helmet or not.”
(Reporting from New York by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies and Bob Tourtellotte)