Mountain biking-related injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States, 1994-2007

Am J Sports Med. 2011 Feb;39(2):404-9. doi: 10.1177/0363546510383478. Epub 2010 Nov 12.


Background: Injury research on mountain biking has been mostly limited to examining professional riders and off-road biking. Mountain bikes represent the largest segment of bike sales in the United States. Recreational mountain bike use is popular and understudied.

Purpose: To describe the scope, distribution, and trends of mountain bike-related injuries treated in US emergency departments.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiologic study.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted with data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for patients aged ≥ 8 years from 1994 through 2007. Sample weights provided by the system were used to calculate national estimates of mountain bike-related injuries based on 4624 cases. Bivariate comparisons between categorical variables were assessed with injury proportion ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Results: Nationwide, an estimated 217 433 patients were treated for mountain bike-related injuries in US emergency departments from 1994 to 2007, an average of 15 531 injuries per year. The annual number of injuries decreased 56%, from a high of 23 177 in 1995 to 10 267 in 2007 (P < .001). The most common injuries were upper extremity fractures (10.6%) and shoulder fractures (8.3%). Patients aged 14 to 19 years sustained a greater proportion of traumatic brain injuries (8.4%) than did patients aged 8 to 13 years and ≥ 20 years combined (4.3%). A greater proportion of female riders (6.1%) than male riders (4.5%) were hospitalized.

Conclusion: Mountain bike-related injuries decreased from 1994 to 2007. Upper extremity fractures were the most common injury. Girls and women may be more likely than boys and men to sustain more severe injuries requiring hospitalization. Despite the decline over the past decade, more can be done to improve safety and reduce injuries in this popular recreational activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sports Equipment
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult