Objective: To analyze the nature of surfing injuries in Cornwall in order to identify trends and inform clinical management.
Methods: The details of patients presenting (with injuries sustained while surfboard/bodyboard riding) to the Emergency Department (ED) of the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro (UK), from September 2004 until August 2006 were recorded prospectively. The notes were then retrospectively reviewed by a senior ED physician. The records of each visit were scrutinized for date, age, sex, injury type, and injury severity and outcome; in addition, the patient's residential status (Cornish resident or visitor) was recorded.
Results: A total of 212 patient episodes were collected. Male patients represented 80% of injuries. The average age was 27 years (range, 11-66 years). Nonresident surfers represented 57% (121) of the patients, and 43% (91) of patients were local Cornwall residents. Of the total injuries, 90% (n = 190) were injuries that were minor/moderate (allowing for discharge after treatment). Lacerations accounted for 38% (n = 73) of injuries, and bruising and laceration to the head represented 37% (n = 71) of injuries in this group. Sprains to the neck and back represented 53% (21/40) of all sprains. Fractures of the facial bones represented 6 of the 8 fractures to the head region; the other 2 fractures involved teeth. Fractures to the upper and lower limbs were equally frequent (6 cases of each). Anterior shoulder dislocations accounted for 10% (n = 19) of injuries not requiring hospital admission. Injuries requiring hospital admission represented 10% (n = 22). These injuries were a more disparate group, with fractures of the cervical spine and skull accounting for 32% (n = 7) and fractures of the lower limb 27% (n = 6) of the total. A total of 77% (n = 168) of all injuries presented in the summer months (April through September). The greatest number of presentations occurred in August, with 33% (n = 69) of the total surf-related injuries for the year.
Conclusions: Surfing injuries were most common in young adult men. Most injuries presenting to the ED were minor/moderate injuries and did not require hospital admission. The overall pattern of injuries was similar to those found in studies from other countries where surfing is popular; however, there was a higher-than-expected incidence of shoulder dislocation. The trends identified in this study could be used to inform education focused on prevention of the most common injuries. Increased use of protective headwear should be considered.