Brain Post: Analyzing Ski Injuries

Greg Obernesser | | BrainsBrains
Chris Del Bosco ski injury. Credit: Fox News

Skiing and snowboarding can take a toll on the body because crashing is a part of the sport and sometimes it can inflict serious injury or sometimes death. Every time we go out to ski or snowboard we don’t think about hurting ourselves, but if we knew what to look out for would that make us safer riders or less injury prone?

I think so because, kind of like reading the fine print on a contract, or nutrition facts on your favorite food, analyzing statistics in regards to ski/snowboard related injuries could have a positive externality on how we take risks while riding. In other words, if we know what to be aware of maybe that will make us more cautious and lead to decreased injury.

Ski injury by body location. Credit: SOS International

So, what’s the study and what does it tell me? According to an SOS International study, during the 2015-2016 holiday, doctors and nurses assisted more than 1,700 ski vacationers in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. What they found was that the knee was the most affected part of the body and accounted for nearly double of all injuries sustained to the lower half of the body and a bit higher than a third of all injuries.

A bit of good statistical news is that head injury, while being a hot frontier issue, declined. The data shows that only 5% of injuries that season were head related. This might be due to an increased usage of helmets, but as we have discovered in other SnowBrains articles on head trauma, conflicting evidence supports that helmets may not be as effective as we think. Also, it is hard to quantify head injuries as sometimes concussions are very hard to diagnose.

Age of injured person distribution with some notes. Credit: SOS International

What trends are not that surprising? Out of the 1,700 tourists attended to the ratio favored men to women. As mentioned in a previous SnowBrains risk article, statistically men are more inclined to assume more risk and it is reflected in 56% to 44% ratio of men being treated for an injury. Another not so surprising statistic was the age distribution of the injured person. I would make the argument that the most injured people are in the age ranges where “they think they got it” people aged 11-30 (18.4% ages 11-20 & 19.4% ages 21-30) and where “they think they still got it” (20.2% ages 41-50 & 18.3% ages 51-60).

Injured men vs. women. Credit: SOS International

While this is not a complete collection of data and only offers a strand of the greater web of ski injuries, it confirms some key points. Knees are frequently injured, head injuries are in decline (maybe), and injuries related to age is a double distribution (meaning there are two peaks for younger and older skiers).

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