The risk of snow sport injury in pediatric patients

Am J Emerg Med. 2019 Mar;37(3):439-443. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2018.06.006. Epub 2018 Jun 2.


Purpose: In 2015, approximately 13,436 snowboarding or skiing injuries occurred in children younger than 15. We describe injury patterns of pediatric snow sport participants based on age, activity at the time of injury, and use of protective equipment.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed of 10-17 year old patients with snow-sport related injuries at a Level-1 trauma center from 2005 to 2015. Participants were divided into groups, 10-13 (middle-school, MS) and 14-17 years (high-school, HS) and compared using chi-square, Student's t-tests, and multivariable logistic regression.

Results: We identified 235 patients. The HS group had a higher proportion of females than MS (17.5% vs. 7.4%, p = 0.03) but groups were otherwise similar. Helmet use was significantly lower in the HS group (51.6% vs. 76.5%, p < 0.01). MS students were more likely to suffer any head injury (aOR 4.66, 95% CI: 1.70-12.8), closed head injury (aOR 3.69 95% CI: 1.37-9.99), or loss of consciousness (aOR 5.56 95% CI 1.76-17.6) after 4 pm. HS students engaging in jumps or tricks had 2.79 times the risk of any head injury (aOR 2.79 95% CI: 1.18-6.57) compared to peers that did not. HS students had increased risk of solid organ injury when helmeted (aOR 4.86 95% CI: 1.30-18.2).

Conclusions: Injured high-school snow sports participants were less likely to wear helmets and more likely to have solid organ injuries when helmeted than middle-schoolers. Additionally, high-schoolers with head injuries were more like to sustain these injures while engaging in jumps or tricks. Injury prevention in this vulnerable population deserves further study.

Level of evidence: Level III (Retrospective Comparative Study).

Keywords: Blunt trauma; Pediatric trauma; Skiing; Snowboarding.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skiing / injuries*