Year 2000 Whitewater Injury Survey

Wilderness Environ Med. Summer 2002;13(2):119-24. doi: 10.1580/1080-6032(2002)013[0119:ywis];2.


Objective: To gather retrospective data on paddling style, equipment, and acute and chronic/overuse injuries in hard shell whitewater canoe and kayak paddlers, to compare injury rates and patterns in different groups of paddlers, and to evaluate the incidence in paddlers of self-reported giardia infection.

Methods: In the summer and fall of 2000, a survey was distributed at riverside, through paddle club bulletins, and was posted on the Internet.

Results: Three hundred nineteen useable surveys were returned reporting 388 acute and 285 chronic injuries. The shoulder, wrist/hand, and elbow/forearm were the most common sites of injury. Sprain/strain was the most common (26%) known acute injury, followed by laceration and contusion (each 17%). Tendinitis was the most common (44%) known chronic injury diagnosis, followed by sprain/strain (27%). Forty-seven percent of acute and 36% of chronically injured paddlers sought medical attention. Giardia infection was reported in 14%.

Conclusions: The shoulder and wrist/hand areas were the most common injured sites in this survey. Sprains, tendinitis, lacerations, and contusions were the most common known injury diagnoses. Injuries due to portage were common. Giardia infection may be common in whitewater paddlers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Giardiasis / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recreation*
  • Ships*
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Wrist Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wrist Injuries / etiology