Alpine ski and snowboarding traumatic injuries: incidence, injury patterns, and risk factors for 10 years

Am J Surg. 2009 May;197(5):560-3; discussion 563-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2008.12.016.


Background: Alpine skiing and snowboarding are popular winter sports in Canada. Every year participation in these activities results in traumatic injury. The purpose of this study was to identify the incidence and injury patterns, as well as risk factors associated with ski and snowboarding injuries.

Methods: A comprehensive 10-year retrospective review of Alpine ski and snowboarding injuries from 1996 to 2006 was conducted. The Alberta Trauma Registry was used as the primary source of data.

Results: A total of 196 patients (56.6% skiers, 43.4% snowboarders) were identified as having major traumatic injuries (Injury Severity Score, >or=12). Forty-three patients required intensive care unit support. The majority of injuries were related to falls and collisions with natural objects. Head injuries were most common, followed by chest, spinal, and extremity trauma. Seventy-nine patients required emergency surgery.

Conclusions: Skiing and snowboarding represent activities with high potential for traumatic injury. Safety initiatives should be developed to target this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skiing / injuries*
  • Thoracic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Young Adult