Objective: To systematically review studies that examined the effectiveness of wrist guards in preventing wrist injuries among snowboarders.
Data source: MEDLINE (1966-March 2005), EMBASE (1988-March 2005), Cochrane (2005 Issue 1), Sport Discus (1975-March 2005) were searched using variations of the term "snowboard." PubMED was searched for the year 2005 to capture any recently published studies not yet indexed in MEDLINE. The reference lists of included studies and conference proceedings were also searched.
Study selection: Studies were included if the number of wrist injuries between wrist guarded and unguarded snowboarders could be ascertained. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), cohort studies, and case-control studies were included. Six studies were included.
Data extraction: Information regarding study design, patient characteristics, wrist guard characteristics, data source (for cohort and case-control studies), and results (type and severity of injury, compliance, and adverse events) were extracted. Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer.
Data synthesis: Data from RCTs and cohort studies were expressed as relative risks with odds ratios presented for case-control studies. The risk of wrist injury (RR: 0.23; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.41), wrist fracture (RR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.10, 0.87), and wrist sprain (RR: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.07, 0.41) was significantly reduced with the use of wrist guards. Among the case-control studies, wrist guards significantly lowered the odds of sustaining a wrist injury (OR: 0.46; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.62). In an RCT, the risk ratio suggested wrist guards protect the shoulder (RR: 0.22; 95% CI: 0.01, 4.60). Nonexperimental data suggested the possibility that wrist guards may increase the risk of finger and elbow-shoulder injuries.
Conclusions: Wrist guards reduce the risk of wrist injuries among snowboarders. For every 50 snowboarders who were a wrist guard, one wrist injury will be averted. Future research should focus on determining the optimal type of wrist guard and if they increase the risk of other upper extremity injuries.