Upper Extremity Injuries in Snowboarding and Skiing: a Comparative Study

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ObjectivesTo determine the types and causes of upper extremity injuries sustained while snowboarding.DesignA prospective survey of snowboarders with upper extremity injuries, especially fractures and dislocations.ParticipantsBetween 1995 and 2000, we analyzed and interviewed 6,837 injured snowboarders and 2,175 injured skiers, and a total of 2,742 snowboarders and 361 skiers with fractures or dislocations of the upper extremities were studied.ResultsThe ratio of upper extremity injuries to all injury types was significantly higher in snowboarders (40%, p < 0.001). Shoulder dislocations accounted for 5.5% of all injuries in skiers but 71% of all dislocations. In comparison, 6.5% of snowboarders' injuries were shoulder dislocations, representing 50% of all dislocations. It was noted that dislocation of the elbow joint was a more characteristic injury of snowboarders (30%) than of skiers (3%). The most frequently fractured site in skiers was the clavicle (32% of all fractures), and in snowboarders, it was the wrist (62% of all fractures). The most frequently affected side of the snowboarders' upper extremity was the left, with the exception of wrist fractures. With the exception of wrist fractures, the edge side that caused the accident was the opposite of the side that was injured. Most snowboarders did not have initial instruction from professional instructors (93%) and did not use protective equipment (87%).ConclusionsThe results of this study indicate that the upper extremity injuries are much more common in snowboarders than skiers. In particular, upper extremity fractures in snowboarders are three times more common than in skiers. Furthermore, in snowboarding, wrist fractures have a different underlying cause compared with other upper extremity injuries.

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