Windsurfing vs kitesurfing: Injuries at the North Sea over a 2-year period

World J Orthop. 2016 Dec 18;7(12):814-820. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v7.i12.814.


Aim: To analyze all windsurfing and kitesurfing (kiteboarding) injuries presented at our coastal hospital over a 2-year period.

Methods: Twenty-five windsurfers (21 male; aged 31 ± 8 years) and 32 kitesurfers (23 male; aged 29 ± 11 years) presented at our hospital during the 2-year study period. Various injury data were recorded, including transport to hospital and treatment. After a median follow-up of 16 mo (range, 7-33 mo), 18 windsurfers (72%) and 26 kitesurfers (81%) completed questionnaires on the trauma mechanisms, the use of protective gear, time spent on windsurfing or kitesurfing, time to return to sports, additional injuries, and chronic disability.

Results: Most patients sustained minor injuries but severe injuries also occurred, including vertebral and tibial plateau fractures. The lower extremities were affected the most, followed by the head and cervical spine, the upper extremities, and the trunk. The injury rates were 5.2 per 1000 h of windsurfing and 7.0 per 1000 h of kitesurfing (P = 0.005). The injury severity was the same between groups (P = 1.0). Less than 30% of the study population used protective gear. Kitesurfers had a higher number of injuries, and required transport by ambulance, inpatient hospital stay and operative treatment more often than windsurfers, but these differences were not statistically significant (P > 0.05). The median time to return to windsurfing and kitesurfing was 5 and 4 wk, respectively (P = 0.79). Approximately one-third of the patients in each group experienced chronic symptoms.

Conclusion: Kitesurfing results in a significantly higher injury rate than windsurfing in the same environmental conditions but the severity of the injuries does not differ.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Extreme sports; General sports trauma; Prevention; Surfing.