Differences in clinical characteristics of head injuries to snowboarders by skill level

Am J Sports Med. 2011 Dec;39(12):2656-61. doi: 10.1177/0363546511422331. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Background: Many reports have compared head injuries between snowboarding and skiing. However, detailed studies comparing snowboarding head injuries between beginners and intermediates/experts have been lacking.

Purpose: The authors investigated differences in clinical characteristics of head injuries to snowboarders between beginners (group B) and intermediates/experts (group IE).

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: The study population included 2367 patients treated at Saito Memorial Hospital and Yuzawa Community Health Medical Center, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, during 9 seasons from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008.

Results: Group B comprised 959 patients (mean age, 23.0 years; 52% males). Group IE comprised 1408 patients (mean age, 24.8 years; 72% males). Accidents in group B predominantly occurred as falls on gentle slopes (37%) and intermediate slopes (33%), whereas accidents in group IE occurred mostly during jumping (48%). The impact point on the head was predominantly occipital in both groups, but group IE showed a significantly higher frequency of trauma to the frontal region. The ratio of neurologic abnormalities was significantly higher in group IE. However, the ratio of surgical cases was significantly higher in group B (n = 10, 1.04%) than in group IE (n = 5, 0.36%). More acute subdural hematomas were seen in group B, but more fractures, contusions, and acute epidural hematomas were seen in group IE. Four moderate disabilities, 2 comatose patients, and 2 deaths were seen in group B, and 1 moderate disability, 2 severe disabilities, and 1 death were seen in group IE during this study.

Conclusion: The data suggest significant differences in clinical states between beginners and intermediates/experts. Preventive methods for severe head injuries among snowboarders need to be devised based on differences in skill levels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skiing / injuries*
  • Young Adult